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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Spain before the hurricane


Spain jumps from coconut to coconut. In the group phase they collided with the historian Germany, the most successful on the continent with eight titles in the showcase, they will meet the sensational team this Wednesday (9 p.m., La 1) in the quarter-finals: the hosts England. That Three lions Leaping from the excitement of the fans – the English stadiums have the old anthem of “It’s coming home”— to the board of directors of Sarina Wiegman. And always with success. While UEFA holds record attendances – 369,314 group stage tickets sold, 54% more than at the last Euro 2017 at the same stage – the England side have a goals record; marked, but also embedded. No one had ever scored 8-0 and England confirmed it to (former) mighty Norway. So many goals had never been scored in the group stage, the hosts scored 14. Only Germany (2005 and 2022) had finished the first round without conceding a goal, now the English have saved the goalkeepers too.

“We have a very exciting game ahead of us that the players will remember for a long time. It’s an opportunity to make history,” said Reds coach Jorge Vilda on Tuesday. Spain’s second captain Patri Guijarro went one step further: “England are one of the best teams and they are proving it. But we’ve never hung labels. It’s the best we could do. Our mentality is that if we play well and if we are Spain, we can beat anyone.”

La Roja emerged from the group stage with a record of two wins – against Finland (4-1) and Denmark (1-0) – and one loss – Germany (2-0) -. England coach Dutch Sarina Wiegman highlighted her rival’s good pace: “They’re missing two key players like Jennifer Hermoso and Alexia Putellas, but I think they’re still a great side.”

Praise for Wiegman, yes. But the righteous. “They hold the ball very well, but we’ve also seen in the last few games that they have weaknesses,” explained the boss of the team bench. Three lions.

Spain finished the group stage with an average possession of 74%. Nothing unusual for a selection that feeds on rhetoric with leather. In any case, the English do not burn the ball (67% on average) and want to discuss the control of the Spaniards. “They will have a lot of possession, but I hope we will too,” Wiegman said. But if not, they don’t care. “If we wait in our field, there will be a lot of space behind him later,” added the coach. Spain, on the other hand, does not intend to change its skin. “The best thing we can do is play our game,” concluded Guijarro.

Between fan noise and football in England, La Roja wants to sneak into the top 4 in Europe. They haven’t achieved it since 1997, in their first euro.

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Source elpais.com

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