Del Bosque set to stick to tried and trusted meth­ods

The Herald - Herald Sport - - EURO 2016 - GIANNI RUSSO

VI­CENTE DEL BOSQUE, the Spain coach, will not change his side’s ap­proach when they take on Italy in their ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated last-16 clash at Euro 2016.

The win­ners of the past two Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships looked to be hit­ting top gear as they thrashed Turkey 3-0 in their sec­ond group game, but op­ti­mism was then tem­pered by an un­ex­pected loss to Croa­tia.

That de­feat saw the 2010 world cham­pi­ons slip to sec­ond in Group D and move into the other half of the knock­out draw to face Italy in a re­peat of the 2012 fi­nal.

Del Bosque said: “We lost our World Cup opener against Switzer­land (in 2010) but hardly changed any­thing af­ter.

“We played with the same play­ers and in the same way, be­cause it was the way we’d played that had got us there in the first place, and we weren’t go­ing to rip up our plans be­cause of one de­feat to Switzer­land. So we kept go­ing and we in­tend to do that this time round.”

For an­other ex­am­ple of stick­ing to orig­i­nal plans, Del Bosque looked back to the last Eu­ros when Spain swept away a group-stage draw with Italy to beat the same op­po­nents 4-0 in the fi­nal.

He said: “Our first game was against While the Az­zurri could rely on a solid de­fence fea­tur­ing the likes of Paolo Mal­dini and Franco Baresi, they needed to step up the pres­sure in the sec­ond half as they needed a vic­tory to book a place in the semi-fi­nal. The winner even­tu­ally came when Sam­p­do­ria’s Gian­luca Vialli, set up by Carlo Ancelotti, scored with a low shot from the left-hand side of the box. Italy pro­gressed from the group but their hopes were dashed in the semi-fi­nal by the USSR. Dino Bag­gio gave Italy a first-half lead but they strug­gled in the sec­ond pe­riod and Jose Luis Caminero’s equaliser gave Spain some momentum. But a mo­ment of magic from Italy’s tal­is­man Roberto Italy. They were bet­ter than us, but we drew and then we ended up beat­ing none other than Italy in the fi­nal.

“We hardly changed any­thing in be­tween on that oc­ca­sion ei­ther, al­though coaches do ob­vi­ously have to have a bit of flex­i­bil­ity so that they can make changes at any given mo­ment.” Bag­gio saved his side two min­utes from time, as he rounded off an Italy move by tak­ing the ball past Spain goal­keeper An­doni Zu­bizarreta to score from a tight an­gle. That trio of tour­na­ment suc­cesses was com­pleted in Kiev, against Italy. The sides had played out a 1-1 draw in the group stage but the re­match was far more one-sided. Spain gained an early lead af­ter 14 min­utes as David Silva headed into an early net fol­low­ing a ter­rific com­bi­na­tion be­tween An­dres Ini­esta and Cesc Fabre­gas. With Italy car­ry­ing lit­tle threat to Iker Casil­las’ goal, Jordi Alba made it two be­fore half-time, with two late goals round­ing off the scor­ing.

Spain are un­beaten in their last five matches with Italy and also ousted them at Euro 2008, with vic­tory on penal­ties in the quar­ter-fi­nals. Their last meet­ing saw them draw 1-1 in a friendly in Udine in March and they will also face each other again in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing in Oc­to­ber.

Del Bosque seems un­likely to make ma­jor changes to his side ei­ther, with goal­keeper David De Gea, who was crit­i­cised af­ter the Croa­tia loss, ex­pected to con­tinue.

Italy, beaten by the Repub­lic of Ire­land in their last pool match, are with­out mid­fielder An­to­nio Can­dreva be­cause of a thigh in­jury while 10 of their squad are only one book­ing away from a sus­pen­sion.

Alessan­dro Florenzi is ex­pected to take over from Can­dreva on the right and, un­like Del Bosque, coach An­to­nio Conte could make changes with re­ports sug­gest­ing a switch from 3-5-2 to 3-4-3.

Conte sounded the ral­ly­ing cry on the eve of the match as he dis­missed the Spain re­sult against Croa­tia to cast his side as un­der­dogs.

At his pre-match press con­fer­ence, the Chelsea-bound Conte said: “We’re pre­pared. We’ve worked hard. We’re not here just to make up the num­bers.

“If we rea­son, we will lose. We need to go be­yond rea­son and get that thing out of us which makes us ex­tra­or­di­nary.

“I know I’ve got a group of ex­tra­or­di­nary lads who are ready to face this last-16 game which, on paper, is an up­hill strug­gle.

“You’ve got to try to work to up­set the odds. I think this is the beauty of foot­ball and of life – over­com­ing the odds.”

OLD HABITS DIE HARD: Spain man­ager Vi­cente del Bosque will not tin­ker with his side’s ap­proach ahead of Italy clash

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