Vicente Del Bosque, who has won both the Champions League and La Liga twice as a coach, goes into Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final admitting that it is not only "the most important match" of his career but also a time for Spain to rebalance history.
For a nation that has been so dominant throughout the years in club football – Real Madrid having won the European Cup nine times, Barcelona remaining in the ascendancy – it is overdue for the country to reap rewards in the World Cup. “The Spanish team have been away from the titles for too long,” Del Bosque said. “The clubs have dominated in Europe and we have shown now that the Spanish team is also strong.”
That started with victory in the European Championship in 2008 but there is a belief that this golden generation needs to win this competition to fulfil its potential.
“We feel very comfortable to be in the last four and to showcase this moment in Spanish football,” the 59 year-old added.
“Sport in Spain is on the way up and we are not just satisfied with being in the last four. We want to win it.” To do so they must first beat Germany and will rely heavily on David Villa, who is, the coach said, in a “state of grace”.
Spain will also be able to call on Cesc Fabregas, who the manager confirmed will be fit to play despite an injury scare. “He has trained well.” Del Bosque said. “We were quite worried because he took a hit in the same place as his injury, but he is available.”
Del Bosque is aware of the challenge posed by Joachim Löw and his players.
“Germany have a record of being three times world champions and since I was a kid they were always making it to the final,” he said. “Spain are the newcomers but we have seriously earned the right to be here.”
However, Germany coach Löw may not have appreciated Del Bosque’s description of his side’s football as “vertical” (ie. in the air) as opposed to Spain’s “elaborate passing”.
The midfielder Andres Iniesta agreed that now was the time for Spain to capitalise. “Winning the Euros was already a very important moment for us,” he said. “We have, of course, always had this wish to be world champions. We have not always made it. Now we have achieved many things and we are lucky to be in this moment of Spanish football.”
Certainly the words of coach and player convey a sense that anything short of winning tonight, and again on Sunday, would represent failure.
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