Euro 2016: Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque refuses to blame David De Gea for defeat to Croatia
Spain lost 2-1 to Croatia and finished second in the group
Vicente Del Bosque has come out and defended his goalkeeper David De Gea after Spain lost 2-1 to Croatia on Tuesday night in their Group D encounter. The result saw Spain finish second while Croatia topped the group to avoid the bottom half of the Round of 16 draw.
Spain will now face Italy in the Round of 16, a repeat of the Euro 2012 final. That’s not all, the result also sees them in the same half as France and Germany, thereby ensuring they face the highly fancied teams if the defending champions are to reach the final.
De Gea started ahead of Iker Casillas in what was a statement of intent from Del Bosque despite the furore that surrounded him prior to their first group stage match. The Manchester United goalkeeper was implicated along with former U21 teammates Iker Muniain and Isco in a sexual assault case but he denied all charges.
While Spain looked comfortable in the first two wins over the Czech Republic and Turkey, the defence was put to the test against Croatia and, sure enough, they were carved open twice with Ivan Perisic grabbing a brace to help Croatia top the group. Sergio Ramos also missed a penalty which led to Croatia coming back into the game and sealing the win.
The 25-year-old goalkeeper was not at his confident best in the final group game and looked jittery in possession while he also lacked confidence in claiming dangerous crosses, resorting to flailing punches that were very much unlike him.
The result saw Spain lose their first ever game in Euro since losing to Portugal in Euro 2004. It was also the first time they conceded since a 1-1 draw with Italy in the first game of the group stage in Euro 2012.
Everyone is responsible for the loss, not just De Gea: Del Bosque
Del Bosque refused to lay the blame squarely on De Gea, claiming it was the team as a whole that was responsible.
Speaking of De Gea, Del Bosque said: “He didn’t have too much work to do, we can’t blame him for the goals.
“The first was a counter-attack and the second was as well. Everyone is culpable.”
When questioned about facing Italy in the bottom half of the Round of 16 instead of playing a third-placed team in the top half, Del Bosque was mindful of Italy’s threat.
“It wasn’t the path we wanted to take, it’s true, but that’s football,” Del Bosque said.
“It was a game that looked like we had controlled, but we’ll try now to recuperate as quickly as possible from this setback and be in the best possible condition on Monday.
“Italy are playing well, and we were playing well until today. We didn’t play badly but that's the result so we have to prepare to play against them,” he concluded.