De la Fuente: “We wanted to do tests” | Soccer | Sports


There was an economic match and a sports match in London. Spain and Colombia dressed (literally) as visitors in the English capital. Six years after their last confrontation against a South American team (6-1, against Argentina at the Metropolitano in March 2018), La Roja traveled to the English capital to face Colombia. “We wanted to gauge our moment by playing with such powerful rivals. We were looking to compete. There has been no lack of ambition or seriousness. We only know how to play to win. We were very close to doing it in the first half. Players leave annoyed because they don’t like to lose. Nothing justifies defeat,” analyzed Luis de la Fuente. The two teams away from home, a consequence of the agreement signed by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) last December with Stage Front, a technology company for events and hospitality, also a sponsor of Espanyol, which appropriated the name of the Stadium Olympic, the home of West Ham in the Stratford neighborhood of east London.

An excuse (the only happy one in a sad London marked by the news that Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, is being treated for cancer) so that the nearly 192,000 Spaniards and more than 160,000 Colombians who live in the English capital could forget about the prestigious Premier League, especially the South American fans who took over the Queen Elizabeth Stadium. Pedro Rocha did not miss La Roja’s friendly against the tricolor. The interim president of the RFEF, however, delayed his landing in London. After the Central Operational Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard searched the Federation offices last Wednesday for alleged irregularities in the contracts signed during the Luis Rubiales period, Rocha changed his itinerary, instead of traveling on Thursday with the rest of the The delegation appeared in England on the same day of the match. A duel with no more significance for Luis de la Fuente than looking for alternatives, waiting to receive the five-time world champion, Brazil, next Tuesday at the Santiago Bernabéu.

It was difficult to recognize Spain in London. Not only because of the clothing – a worn yellow, with a carnation on the neck, a Spanish symbol since Charles I gave it to his wife Isabel of Portugal – but also because of the lineup, full of new features, with a completely renewed starting eleven : Luis de la Fuente changed the entire team compared to the last duel, then for points, against Georgia in Valladolid. “We wanted to do tests, see some players, but we have to continue improving. We had lost control and we have given them options to play their football. In the second half we were not able to have that same success,” said De la Fuente. For the Spanish coach, at least, the lineup helped him look for new alternatives and to recover his favorite tactical system, the 4-2-3-1, with the Real Sociedad pair, Merino and Zubimendi, in the double pivot. “Our way of playing is more recognizable from the first half. It was not a match trial. We played the way we thought we could win. It has been difficult for us to react,” said De la Fuente.

In any case, he lacked fluidity to shake up the game, essentially the ball, with Joselu away from Vargas’s area – no shots in the 61 minutes he was on the field -, the playmakers (Sarabia, Gerard Moreno and Oyarzabal) silenced, trapped in Colombia’s defensive framework, which stretched its unbeaten streak to 17 games. “Yes we can, yes we can,” shouted the Colombian fans. It was the answer to the lukewarm Spain, fragile in defense – the debutant Vivian, 24, lost the duel against Luis Diaz, in the play that ended in Múñoz’s goal -, without answers in attack. Spain’s second rank didn’t work, but neither did de la Fuente’s first swords. Neither the experience of Morata nor the self-confidence of Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams could break the Colombian defense.

The duel against Colombia served, at least, to celebrate the debut of Pau Cubarsí, in addition to the debut of Remiro. “We are happy about that. We wanted them to live that experience. They have a great future and we need them to have that opportunity in these games so that when we play for points they already have experience,” De la Fuente recalled. The Catalan defender, the 142nd Barcelona player to debut for La Roja, became the second youngest player to debut for the senior team: 17 years and 60 days. The podium is all from La Masia, first place is occupied by Lamine Yamal (16 years and 57 days) and third position is Gavi (17 and 62), currently recovering from the torn cruciate ligaments he suffered last November. The economic duel worked, not the sporting one. Spain, however, toasted the youth against Colombia, on a bitter day in London, with no response from the second rows, waiting for Brazil on Tuesday at the Bernabéu.

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