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FIFA World Cup: Veterans, youth united in Spain's title quest

November 30, 2022 19:26 IST
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'Those of us who are older, who went through difficult times in Brazil and Russia, help the younger ones, with new energy.'

Spain's Sergio Busquets, coach Luis Enrique, Jordi Alba and others applaud following the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match against Germany at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar

IMAGE: Spain's Sergio Busquets, coach Luis Enrique, Jordi Alba and others applaud following the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match against Germany at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Spain's experienced players support youngsters like Pedri and Gavi in dealing with the pressure of their first World Cup but also learn from them, midfielder Koke said, as they bid to seal their last-16 spot against Japan on Thursday.

 

Spain hammered Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening Group E game and took the lead against Germany in their second match, but let it slip when Niclas Fuellkrug rescued a 1-1 draw for his team late in the second half.

"We talked about the fact that we should have had more of the ball (in that game)," Koke told a news conference on Tuesday.

"We shouldn't have attacked so quickly and we should have played wider. That's what the coach always asks of us".

Spain play their final group match against Japan, and will qualify for the last 16 with a win or a draw. Defeat would leave them relying on a goal difference.

"We watched Japan's match against Germany, they work very well and are very organised. They gather many players at the back but they come out with energy," Koke said.

"I think (on Thursday) it will be a similar game because the Germans are similar to Spain ... Japan's strong point is the team they have, they're going to die for their idea."

Spain, who won the 2010 World Cup, are looking to reclaim their spot in the elite after they were eliminated at the group stage in 2014 and did not make it past the last 16 four years later.

"Those of us who are older, who went through difficult times in Brazil and Russia, help the younger ones, with new energy," said Koke, who is playing his third World Cup.

"The veterans are also in great spirits and all the unity we have together makes for such a healthy and strong group."

The talented youngsters, led by the likes of Pedri and Gavi, are what makes the Spain side stand out.

"I tell Gavi not to get into that nervousness or the madness that surrounds a World Cup. He has to play the way they play, enjoy and be calm," Koke said.

"I think both Pedri and Gavi work magic, they are at a spectacular level. They're so young but you give them the ball and they don't lose it.

"Those of us who are older also learn from the young players. They do things we don't do. We see what they do well, and what they don't -- and then we help them."

 

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