“There’s no gain without pain,” suggests Luis de la Fuente as Spain reach EURO2024 final

Spain’s victory over France in Munich on Tuesday confirmed la Roja as the first of the EURO2024 finalists, with Luis de la Fuente’s men now set to face either the Netherlands or England in Berlin on July 14.

Having worked his way up to take the senior team reins since joining as the U19s head coach in 2013, de la Fuente has long-established principles of playing attacking, attractive football – and he told reporters in his post-match press conference that Tuesday’s victory “has been cooking from the first minute I was appointed.”

“I knew really well what I could do with them, and I knew that we needed only time to put into practice what we’ve been showing so far… it’s a long process, but we had in mind what kind of decisions we were going to make.”

“We are trying to have a clear idea and a clear motto,” he explained, suggesting that “we have the footballers to play in a concrete way, and to make the most out of them.”

“You need to believe in it. You need to make your team play in the way that the team can play. I know that this is a versatile team with many different skillsets, but that’s because of the players we have. Knowing them as we do, that gives us the chance to play them in different ways with different players who would bring in different things on the pitch.”

(Photo by Joosep Martinson – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

“Whatever happens on Sunday, we’re always going to be faithful to our philosophy regardless of the result,” insisted the 63-year-old. It’s a philosophy that’s paid off so far, with la Roja having previously seen off Germany to reach the semifinal.

Reflecting on those two victories, de la Fuente quipped that “it’s been two different opponents with totally different characteristics, which gives credit to both victories because we had to play them differently.”

“They’re two huge national teams who forced us to play our best, and we’re grateful about how demanding those matches were,” he added.

Their last-gasp win over Germany was a controversial one, however. Marc Cucurella looked to have handled the ball inside the area but no penalty was given by the referee – and the full-back was subjected to persistent boos from the German fans inside the stadium on Tuesday.

“The only thin they did was to motivate him – he’s a great professional and he knew how to overcome it,” de la Fuente praised, insisting that the fan behaviour will do nothing to detract from an otherwise enjoyable month in Germany.

“I’m against any disrespect, but I know that the people who booed him do not represent Germany because Germany as a host country has been extraordinary. They don’t represent football, sport or Germany as a country.”

One player that simply could not be heckled by anyone in the Munich Football Arena was 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, who restored parity for la Roja after 21 minutes with a stunning curling strike from the edge of the box.

De la Fuente was full of praise for the youngster, noting: “I want him to work with the same humility and keep his feet on the ground in order to keep improving with that same maturity on the pitch… he looks like a much more experienced player, to be honest.”

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