Image: Iniesta in action for Spain.
Former Spain Coach Javier Clemente has described midfield maestro Andres Iniesta as a ‘phenomenon’, adding that he believes La Roja will go far beyond their next fixture against Italy in Euro 2016.
Spain were paired with the Azzurri as a result of dropping to second in Group D, having lost their last game against Croatia.
Clemente explains in a brief chat with AS that Ivan Perisic’s winning goal [scored on the counter-attack] is what makes football a beautiful game.
Image: Javier Clemente
“It can happen to anyone, including my teams. It really was an unusual goal for an experienced team to concede. It was hot, the team had symptoms of fatigue and the Croats were fresher,” he says.
“I think if Spain had to go out to win the match they would have won. But when a draw will do, sometimes you neither attack nor defend. They took advantage of the attacking nature of the national team.
He continued: “It is more complicated now but it’s not impossible. Spain played very well against Turkey, but Turkey is a fiesta. Against Croatia there was also a very good moment in the first half hour but then they let in two goals in the last minute of each half and that’s what needs to be analysed. Now we’re entering a phase in which everyone competes.
“Now you have to play at the highest level. If you lack a little bit of concentration, intensity and physical strength, you’re out. We can win. If Spain give their best I’m sure they’ll continue to go through the rounds. We remain among the favourites.”
When asked about his opinion on Vicente del Bosque and the changes he’s made in the team, Clemente said: “Changes? That’s for Vicente del Bosque. He knows better than us how the team is. He’s got five days to check the fitness and mood of each player. Then he decides. But I wouldn’t expect many changes. The team has played three games, two-and-a-half of them they’ve done well.”
Image: Andres Iniesta in action at the Euro 2016.
Andres Iniesta has been the most outstanding Spanish player so far in Euro 2016, and Clemente joined in singing his praises. The Barcelona midfielder is widely adjudged to be Spain’s best player in the tournament.
“Would I have picked him? Of course, but he’s a phenomenon. He’s the player with the most influence on the national team, especially near the attack. Croatia did well to get him out of that area of influence,” he noted.
“They pressured him and forced him to gradually go deeper. So from the first half hour, when they did that, we had more problems. I would have Iniesta and nine more. We would just play with 10.
“Did I play like Iniesta? I think I ran more. I was more of a runner with less quality. Iniesta is the best player of individual quality I have ever seen.”
Image: Javier Clemente
Earlier in May, Vicente Del Bosque announced that he would be resigning as the national team coach following the tournament in France [Euro 2016], having taken charge of the side for eight years and guided them to a World Cup trophy and the European Championship in 2012.
Following the announcement, Javier Clemente, who is currently the national team coach of Libya made it known that there’s are no doubts on the fact that he is the only option with enough experience to take the job after Del Bosque.
The 66-year-old spoke at a Press Conference with Al Primera Toque podcast. In his words: “The best substitute for Del Bosque would be me. I’d love it. It was the best time of my life.
“It’s a blessing to coach your national team, even with the journalists who want to get rid of you or love you, and the demands from home.
“I think we’ve got a good team but I don’t see us winning the competition [Euro 2016]. It’s going to be very difficult.”