Euro 2024

June 20, 2024

Playing Italy like ‘looking in a mirror’, says Spain’s De la Fuente

Playing Italy like ‘looking in a mirror’, says Spain’s De la Fuente

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on June 18, 2024 shows a Spain supporter posing prior to the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Spain and Croatia at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 15, 2024, and a fan of Italy holding an Italian scarf prior the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Italy and Albania at the BVB Stadion in Dortmund, western Germany, on June 15, 2024. – Spain will face Italy at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen on June 20, 2024. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN and FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Luis de la Fuente said on Wednesday he was struck by the similarities between his Spain team and Italy as the pair aim to secure qualification for the knockout stage of Euro 2024.

La Roja and champions Italy have undergone a change in playing personnel over the last year, and have young blood throughout their squads.

Spain are more direct than under previous coach Luis Enrique while Luciano Spalletti is attempting get Italy to play a high-intensity attacking style with which he won the Serie A title for Napoli.

“They’re very similar to us, they have changed coach and they have young players. They are very competitive,” De la Fuente told reporters.

“It’s almost like we’re looking in a mirror actually. We are a growing, developing team which is working on cohesion and consistency and so are they. I think it will be a very high quality match.”

Spain have faced Italy at each of the last four Euros and meet in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday where both teams can ensure top spot in Group B with a win.

They are locked on three points at the top of the group, two ahead of Albania and Croatia who played out an exciting 2-2 draw earlier on Wednesday.

And De la Fuente, who has a fully fit squad at his disposal, is in no doubt that his team will play to win rather than try to not lose and then attempt to secure top spot in their final group game with Albania.

“Without doubt we want to win. This game most important game for us so far,” he said.

“That is the only thing we’re thinking about… We play all matches to win. I don’t know how to play any other way.”

Fabian Ruiz, who will face his former coach at Napoli in Spalletti, shrugged off talk of Spain being favourites for the Euros despite their blistering debut win over Croatia.

“We don’t see ourselves as favourites but we have confidence in our potential,” said Fabian Ruiz.

“We know we have the quality to get to the final and we’ll do what we can to get there. Maybe if we get to the final I’ll be able to tell you whether we’re favourites or not. But it’s very difficult to win a tournament.”