Spain’s dream in the Euro Cup begins against the Croatian heart | Euro Cup Germany 2024

Spain begins its journey in the Euro Cup where it would like to end it, in the Olympic stadium in Berlin, a colossus built by the Reich to house the gigantic propaganda operation that was the 1936 Olympic Games. The team debuts this afternoon against Croatia (6:00 p.m., La1 ) in the stadium where the final awaits on the night of July 14.

The venue does not only carry the weight of that festival of Nazism. Football has been leaving a trace of its aroma. Here Zinedine Zidane said goodbye to the ball with the desperate headbutt to Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final that Italy ended up winning, and matches from another World Cup were played here, the 1974 one that Germany won. It also has space for more intimate memories: Luka Modric already watched the Croatia-Brazil match at the 2006 World Cup from the bench — “an extraordinary atmosphere” — and Zlatko Dalic, now coach, experienced it in the stands, in the largest movement of Croatian fans. of history. Until this afternoon, when they will surpass it, with more than 30,000 supporters.

There will once again be more than the Spaniards—about 10,000—as already happened in the final of the Nations League that Spain won last year in Rotterdam. “We still have a hard time with that national feeling. It is difficult for us to have him,” said the coach, Luis de la Fuente, yesterday. “But little by little it is our responsibility that they feel that country pride. With victory it is achieved in a better way. “We are going to try to give reasons for them to follow us in a more massive way.”

The first steps of La Roja’s path towards that goal are very familiar. Croatia and Italy were also the rivals in the final phase of the Nations, and also those in the round of 16 and the semifinal of the last Euro Cup. Together with Albania, they make up what Modric described yesterday as “the most difficult group of the tournament.”

After so many recent crossings, they know each other very well. Although Dalic yesterday highlighted an evolution in Spain that he considers decisive: “she plays with more verticality, she is faster with possession. Instead of the tiqui taca game, which destroys the rival with possession, now it is different. They have Morata and they have fast players on the wings. It is a game with more speed.”

Croatia maintains its characteristic trait, which Rodri summarized: “They know how to play the timing of the game very well. They never lose face. That for me is the most difficult thing. Not so much the rival, but how they compete and manage the times,” he explained. “It is a team that in recent tournaments has proven to be the most consistent.” A day before, Dani Olmo, who cut his teeth as a professional in the Balkan country, tried to decipher the phenomenon: “Playing with their country gives them an advantage. Not only in football, but also in handball, in water polo, in any sport. “They are people who are dying to win.”

On the Spanish side, De la Fuente cleared up some of the doubts, starting with the small mystery surrounding the condition of Aymeric Laporte, who has not trained with the group in recent days due to “muscular discomfort”, according to the information released by the federation. “I could play tomorrow,” said the coach; “But we would have to take risks, and we have decided not to do so. It’s perfectly. It has arrived at the right time, when I had planned it with him. For me today he is one of the best in his position.” Today Nacho will partner Le Normand in the center of defense. Where he wanted to leave the doubts open was later: “You all assume that Nico and Lamine are going to play… We’ll see.”

These details are not what concerns him the most: “We are in a position to fight to do something important, we want to reach the final.” Rodri, in the guts of an Olympic stadium full of resonances, went even further: “Our main objective is to compete and show that Spain is once again ready to win a European Championship.”

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