Spain defeat 'over-dramatised', says Juanfran
LA ROCHELLE, France (Reuters) - Spain right back Juanfran has described as "over-dramatised" the critical reaction back home to his team's 2-1 defeat by Croatia at Euro 2016 and believes the champions will grow from the experience to beat Italy.
Everything has come under scrutiny since Tuesday's loss, including coach Vicente del Bosque's decision to field the same starting XI for a third straight game instead of resting players.
Yet the experienced Juanfran thinks people have been getting too carried away with their criticisms as the tension grows before Spain meet Italy in a repeat of the Euro 2012 final in what promises to be the marquee tie of the round of 16.
"In most of the three games that we have played (at Euro 2016), we have been superior," Juanfran said in his news conference on Thursday.
"I think our defeat has been over-dramatised. It was an unexpected defeat. We have thought a lot about Croatia's second goal and there was an excess of confidence on our part but we will correct that."
Many have wondered why Sergio Ramos, with the score 1-1, took the penalty that was saved when a midfielder or a striker could have done the job.
"The penalties are a decision taken by the coach, during the game or if there is a penalty shootout," Juanfran said.
The Atletico Madrid defender, a member of Spain's Euro 2012-winning side, is perhaps the perfect person to have in the changing room because he has learned how to cope with disappointment.
The 31-year-old came to the tournament on the back of a missed spot kick in the penalty shootout which ended up handing victory in the Champions League final to their Madrid neighbours Real.
Yet Juanfran always retains an upbeat attitude which he wants his team mates to share.
"The conclusions after the defeat are positive," he said. "It's there where you learn.
"We are convinced that we are going to qualify for the next round."
Even against Italy, one of the traditional heavyweights of international football?
"Any rival in the last 16 of a Euro is tough," Juanfran said, adding that it was not entirely accurate to suggest Spain's side of the draw is tougher.
"That remains to be seen," he said. "I apply the Atletico philosophy -- one game at a time."
One cause for Spanish optimism is Alvaro Morata, who has scored three goals in the last two games.
"Alvaro Morata is at a great level," Juanfran said. "As a striker, we can only ask him to score and he is giving us that."
(Writing by Adriana Garcia; Editing by Ian Chadband)