“Both teams will play like it is a final”: İlkay Gündoğan ahead of Spain v Germany

İlkay Gündoğan and manager Julian Nagelsmann told reporters they are prepared for a tough game in tomorrow’s quarterfinal against Spain.

The tournament hosts will face Luis de la Fuente’s team, who have been the form side of the competition so far, in Stuttgart tomorrow evening. They previewed the game at today’s press conference.

What did İlkay Gündoğan say?

Germany’s captain was calm ahead of tomorrow’s huge fixture. “We’re feeling super prepared for a very difficult game, a game on an equal level I think, but there’s no reason to not be very confident tomorrow.

“From now on, every game is a final. I’m sure both teams will play like it’s a final. It speaks for both teams when [the media] say we’re the two best teams. It shows we’ve done a lot of things right, if not perfectly. There’s nothing better for a football fan, or a player, than these kind of games.”

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Predicting deciding factors, Gündoğan said: “(Both teams) are used to having the ball, used to a possessional game.

“It could be a difference tomorrow, what the team does or how much the team struggles without the ball. Maybe the better team to handle that situation will come out as the winner, we don’t know. It could be something that could make a difference.”

The crowd, he added, could also be decisive: “We want to fire up the atmosphere and this atmosphere can maybe push us a little bit more.

“We want to create this moment, this situation where we get the audience behind us and let the opponent feel that we have great support here at home.”

Spain have been one of the best performers at EURO2024 so far, and the German captain was quizzed on both their young winger Lamine Yamal and his old Manchester City colleague Rodri.

“For a 16-year-old, (Yamal) has come a long way. When you look at where I was at 16, he’s at a completely different place. The way he plays football and the risks he takes, he’s an extremely important player for Spain and for Barcelona. I have huge respect for what he’s doing.

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“I remember (Rodri’s) first season in Manchester. He used to spend an extra 45 minutes to an hour on the training ground with Pep [Guardiola]. He’s come so far and learned so much. For me, he’s definitely the best holding midfielder in the world. You can’t keep a player like that quiet over 90 minutes, but there are ways of making things more difficult for him.”

Gündoğan was also asked about Spanish forward Joselu’s comment about hoping to retire Toni Kroos on Saturday, as the 34-year-old German will bow out from international football whenever Germany leave the tournament.

“Hopefully it wont be (his last game) but obviously everyone knows his situation and his thoughts – so we’ll do everything to give him two more games after tomorrow.”

What did Julian Nagelsmann say?

Germany’s manager was equally conscious of the strength of tomorrow’s opposition.

“I think (we) can advance against Spain but we can also get eliminated. I think the Spanish coach, if he’s as frank as I am, he would say the same. So I would say this is a match at an even level.

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“Both teams are good in possession and have good counter-pressing qualities. Both teams can put their opponents under pressure. It’ll be important tomorrow to sort a lot of one-v-one situations [in our favour].

“It’s one of the more important games, without a doubt, but our preparations have been identical [to previous games]. Everything’s staying the same.

“We’ve decided who’s starting and who’s not starting. We had a lot of individual chats yesterday and watched a lot of videos. We’re well prepared and confident we can put in a good performance.”

Nagelsmann was also quizzed about teenage sensation Lamine Yamal, and while he quipped that his focus was on “Jamal (Musiala), not Yamal”, he praised the young Barcelona star.

“He’s been very consistent of late. His job is to maintain that consistency. He obviously has great qualities, particularly in one-v-one situations. And he’s only 16 years old!

“I think you can’t always defend him because he is so variable – he’s going inside, outside, his left foot is stronger than his right foot but he can still use his right foot. So we need to be prepared for several things, but on the other hand he doesn’t have so much experience on that level.

“He’s an interesting player, he’s doing a very good job, and for the neutral spectator he’s definitely a joy to watch.”

Analysing how Germany could approach the match, he said: “I think we have a lot of quality ourselves, we can create a lot ourselves, there’s many approaches how you can fight against a team that likes ball possession. Of course you need a good defensive approach – we have different variants and the Spanish will have difficulty also to adapt to every variation.

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“It’s always easier to play against a team who wants to have the ball when you have the ball yourself so this is our ambition.

“Spain always tries to press very high, when they lose the ball but also when they have the ball they try to get the ball as high as possible.

“They have a very good transition game now after they win the ball, they don’t play so much tiki taka anymore but they go straight towards the goal and that’s how they create more chances.”

Nagelsmann was not worriewd when quereid about the possibility of a penalty shootout – “We have already a prepared list and then we need to have those players on the pitch… as of today we have almost too many (who would be able to take them).”

Finally, he joined his captain in looking forward to the support: “I think the atmosphere will be very good at Stuttgart. Together we are stronger, this is our home advantage so we should make use of it to have as successful match tomorrow.”

See what the Spanish camp had to say, and follow buildup to every quarterfinal, here on FromTheSpot and on our X account as our comprehensive EURO2024 coverage continues.