Lugubrious Del Bosque displays optimistic side after win
By Steve Tongue
TOULOUSE, FRANCE (Reuters) - Relief ran through Spanish ranks after Gerard Pique's late header secured a 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic in their opening Group D match at Euro 2016 on Monday.
Coach Vicente del Bosque felt the holders were always in control and bristled a little when it was suggested they should score more.
“Everyone wants to score more but we haven’t been too bad in the last few years with this style," he said.
“We have the responsibility to win and not just play nicely. Now we’re obviously a bit more optimistic about the future than if we’d drawn.”
The often lugubrious coach repeatedly refused to be drawn into praising individual players, with the exception of one he had left out of the team.
“Iker has been exceptional,” Del Bosque said when asked about how record caps holder Iker Casillas felt about David de Gea playing in goal instead of him.
“It’s not about individuals,” was his response to invitations to praise goalscorer Pique or man-of-the-match Andres Iniesta.
Czech coach Pavel Vrba set a target of four points from the remaining games against Croatia, on Friday, and then Turkey on June 21.
“That should be enough to qualify,” he said.
Although pleased at the way his side defended, he wanted the Czechs to do more in possession and was disappointed not to have achieved more.
“After the first 45 minutes I told my players we had to have more patience when we had the ball. We lost the ball a lot and couldn’t counter-attack without it," he said.
“But the quality of Spain is at another level to us. Spanish football is the best in Europe, we can see that in their clubs, in the Champions League and Europa League.”
Czech defender Roman Hubnik, who might have scored at both ends early in the second half, promised that his side would play more adventurously from now on.
“We had to defend a lot in a block but we’re going to play more offensively in the other games,” he said.
(Reporting by Steve Tongue. Editing by Adrian Warner)