This could be history in waiting and a future in the making that Spain have been waiting for a long time, Jorge Vilda insisted. After both they and Germany scored four in their opening match, the meeting on Tuesday night is likely to define Group B – and, the Spain coach insisted, so much more besides. The selection have never beaten Germany but they have never been closer either and Brentford brings an opportunity they will “leave their soul” to grasp.
For what feels like months now Vilda has sought to reduce the pressure placed on his players, insisting that the expectations made of them are exaggerated. Here he was quick to remind people of the threat standing before his players, highlighting the threats they carry and audibly applying the full stops as he described Germany as: “A. Clear. Candidate. As we have been saying from the start.” And yet he did not shy away from the significance of a match that might change everything.
“Winning this would be historic: we have never beaten them before,” the Spain coach said. “As well as the fact that it would practically qualify us for the quarter-finals, bringing that target close, we have been chasing this for a long time. I have been here since 2015 and we always set the objective to do things we have not been able to do, to play and beat the best teams.”
“We have never beaten Germany but we have drawn twice and the last time was very close – we were five minutes away from beating them. What does that mean? It means that we are right there. And we will give everything, leave our soul out there to win for the first time,” Vilda said.
That latest draw, in the Arnold Clark Cup this year, in which Germany equalised in the final minutes, provides a blueprint for Spain to follow, their coach said. This is a team whose identity and approach is non-negotiable, with Vilda asked here about the influence Johan Cruyff had on his development given that his father played under the Dutchman. The midfielder Patri Guijarro meanwhile described their style as “the complete opposite” of Germany’s, noting: “We have to keep the ball and avoid their counters.”
Spain have also been handed a boost with the news that Lea Schüller, so impressive in Germany’s opening game victory against Denmark, will have to miss out having caught Covid.
“That’s not nice news for anyone,” the Spain coach said. “We would have been delighted if the virus had left us by now and everyone was healthy. We had that issue during our preparation in Madrid but thankfully we came through that. Germany don’t depend on any [single] player and they have others who can play as a No 9. We have to keep on our own path.
“February[‘s draw] is a good reference point for us,” Vilda added. “We were able to dominate the game. They were dangerous in transitions but not so [dangerous] on dead balls that time – although we know they have very good takers and finishers, even without Schüller. They are quick on the wings and we have to neutralise that.
“We know their players perfectly. They have’t done anything new that surprised us [in the European Championship]. We played them before coming here and that means we are better prepared for this. They are solid, strong, dangerous in transitions and a clear candidate. Historically, they have high self-esteem because of everything they have done and that has been seen here. We have to be at our best in dominating possession, in positioning, in creating chances, and then have a bit of luck in front of goal. The details will decide it.
“I want to highlight the commitment and the confidence of all our players, which is at its highest. From there we can grow and try to make the game go our way. Winning would of course be an injection of adrenaline, motivation and morale, for sure. It would be historic.”