LAST 16 | ITALY-SPAIN
Koke: “We need to mix tiki-taka with fury”
The Atlético Madrid man spoke to AS ahead of Spain's crunch tie against Italy on Monday.
—A difficult draw in the last 16.
—Italy are really tough opponents. When it’s just one game, in the last 16, quarters, semis or final it’s really difficult. Defensively they’re excellent and they attack in numbers. It’s going to be a really tough game but we’re Spain and if we play well, the way we know how, then we’re very difficult to beat. We’re highly motived and really want to progress.
—Do you see yourself getting minutes on the pitch?
—Those of us who aren’t playing are really up for forming part of the team, but the gaffer has picked those eleven players in the first three games and we respect that. Against the Czech Republic and Turkey they played well, and in the first half against Croatia the team did well – they (Croatia) equalised just before half-time and ultimately we weren’t able get the result and top the group.
—Do you think Spain lack a bit of Atleti, that touch of Cholismo?
—We are competetive and there are people who want to win. Although at times it looks like Spain play to have possession of the ball and not to attack that’s not the way it is. We have possession to attack and tire out our rivals. In the first two games and the third we played some great stuff. Spain are showing that they have that competitive edge.
—You’ve known De Gea since you were a kid. How’s David getting on? Is he focused on football after all the controversies?
—Yes, De Gea is focused. He’s relaxed. He told us he hadn’t done anything wrong and when you haven’t done anything you’re relaxed. When it comes to playing he’s relaxed and it’s the same in training.
—What needs to be done differently from the Croatia game?
—We need to know how to control the game. We need to know how to get the result – they caught us out with three minutes left. We have to defend with the ball. We had the ball but they hit us on the counter and with the wings open. We have to improve in that area to avoid Italy’s counters, because there are going to close things up and may we have to play it short.
—Now Spain are about tika-taka, whereas before it was the fury. Do think tiki-taka should be mixed with this fury?
—Yes, I do. Tiki-taka has done great things for us and brought us a lot of success. We can mix touches of this red fury with tiki-taka, which would be great for Spain.
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