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Spain aim to put aside RFEF crisis as they chase Euro 2024 glory

As they brace for the challenge of a tough Group B alongside Croatia, European champions Italy and surprise package Albania, Spain manager Luis de la Fuente and his players have had to deal with the furore swirling around the RFEF.
Last Updated : 03 June 2024, 03:28 IST
Last Updated : 03 June 2024, 03:28 IST

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Madrid: Spain will arrive in Germany for Euro 2024 looking to re-establish themselves as major title contenders while hoping to tune out the noise after months of controversy surrounding the country's scandal-ridden soccer federation (RFEF).

As they brace for the challenge of a tough Group B alongside Croatia, European champions Italy and surprise package Albania, Spain manager Luis de la Fuente and his players have had to deal with the furore swirling around the RFEF.

With a corruption probe under way and the fallout from the unsolicited kiss former RFEF chief Luis Rubiales gave player Jenni Hermoso after Spain won the women's World Cup in Sydney last year, the government created a special committee two weeks ago to oversee the governing body until it holds new elections.

Months of controversy overshadowed Spain's 2023 UEFA Nations League title and an almost perfect Euro 2024 qualifying campaign that left the impression their young and talented core seem to be on rise under the calm De la Fuente.

With Barcelona teenagers Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsi breaking out, Manchester City midfielder Rodri in his prime and Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal and Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata still delivering, Spain have a good mix of youth and experience.

Twelve years after Spain's golden generation won the Euros, capping a glorious six-year run in which they also won the nation's first World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2008, they seem to be ready to emerge from the shadows of past glories after two heartbreaking shootout defeats in the Euro 2020 semi-finals against Italy and the 2022 World Cup last-16 versus Morocco.

"I know Spanish grassroots football very well and I believe we develop the best players in the world. But to become a champion you need to play as a team," De la Fuente told Reuters in an interview last month.

The 62-year-old has the advantage of knowing many of the players who will make the Euro 2024 squad really well.

He won the Euros with the Under-19s in 2015 and Under-21s in 2019, coaching many of those he guided to the UEFA Nations League title last year, having worked with players such as Pedri, Mikel Oyarzabal, Fabian Ruiz, Mikel Merino, Marco Asensio and Dani Olmo in the Under-15 team.

"We need a team that is cohesive, united, a homogeneous group that have a common goal and a clear objective. And I think we have consolidated a great group of people, a great human group," he said.

"Now let football do the talking and let the talented footballers, who I believe we can count on, be the real stars of this story, the stars on the pitch."

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Published 03 June 2024, 03:28 IST

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