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Rodri sees the quality in new-look Spain squad

The Spain midfielder outlined his thoughts ahead of the first international break under new coach Luis de la Fuente.

Rodri speaks ahead of international fixtures

Manchester City and Spain star Rodri has set his sights on a successful end to the season. The midfielder has been called up for the national team squad for games against Scotland and Norway, before returning to his club side for the all-important run-in. City are still in contention for three trophies and have drawn Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The midfielder spoke to Cadena SER about his first impressions of life in the Spain squad under Luis de la Fuente, who replaced Luis Enrique after the 2022 World Cup. The incoming boss has named a new-look squad for his first set of fixtures and left out some big names.

Here’s what Rodri had to say about the new direction of Spanish football and Manchester City’s prospects in the Champions League...

Rodri is now an established squad member.
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Rodri is now an established squad member.ALAA AL SUKHNIREUTERS

On his role in the national team

“Whenever you come back, it’s a source of pride. I feel like a veteran at 26-years-old, wanting to continue doing the same job. The team has been renewed and now we need leadership and to set a good example to the young players.

On Luis de la Fuente

“He trusts us a lot. We have worked with him in the past [in the youth teams] and we know what he wants, that will help a lot.”

“Each coach leaves his stamp; Luis has his ideas and wants to implement them. The way he conceives the game, the core stays the same”.

Luis de la Fuente takes training.
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Luis de la Fuente takes training. PEPE ANDRESDiarioAS

“[Tiki-taka] is a just term, the philosophy is to have personality with the ball and it depends on the rivals you face. I see it with the potential of being more vertical, incisive. The quality of the players we have is clear and we can play something that suits us”.

On playing in defence

“[Midfield] is my role, but at that time [Luis Enrique] considered a change appropriate. There are many things in football that you just don’t expect. Moments come up, a light comes on, and a player changes. We’ve seen wingers go full-backs for their entire careers.

“With me Luis Enrique detected it quickly, I thought I was capable and it strengthened the team. I have many teammates who are versatile.”

On Sergio Ramos

“I don’t want to get involved in the coach’s decision [not to recall Ramos]. It is a very personal decision. They both said what they had to say and I won’t go into the subject too much. Sergio has been a reference in the team, he deserved everything and we must continue.

“All the greats turn the page.”

Sergio Ramos lifted the World Cup with Spain.
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Sergio Ramos lifted the World Cup with Spain. JEWEL SAMADDiarioAS

On the state of refereeing

“I wouldn’t dream of playing without VAR now. In a stadium that doesn’t have VAR you feel very vulnerable because you depend on the decision of a referee at that moment. We have a tool that allows us to see what has happened.”

“At the media level, [in Engand] refereeing decisions are more respected. It’s the only way to continue on the right track.”

[”As with] Asensio’s offside, when they draw the lines and say it’s offside you have to trust it. There’s no turning back”.

On Champions League hopes

“Every year [Pep Guardiola] has more enthusiasm for the competition. The pressure is put on you by the people outside but we are a club that is here to fight it and try to believe. We improve step by step.”

“The Premier League is such a tough and demanding competition that in the end you can equate it with the Champions League. After the tie with Real Madrid we won the Premier League and it was as if we had won the Champions League.

“The Premier League is like an internal Champions League. For me it’s a Super League and it’s getting more and more difficult”.