Rafael van der Vaart has lashed out at Spain’s Euro 2020 form, describing their style of play as “horrible” and hoping the Netherlands draw them in the knockouts.
Luis Enrique’s men have made a tame start to the tournament, drawing their opening two games, including a goalless stalemate against Sweden on matchday one, in which they recorded 85% possession but failed to breach Robin Olsen’s net.
Despite playing just two games so far, Spain currently lead the charts for most final third passes attempted in the tournament (583), though they have lacked a real cutting edge and ruthlessness in opposition territory, scoring just one goal.
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That came against Poland at the Estadio de La Cartuja, but they were pegged back shortly after the break by goal fiend Robert Lewandowski, who restored parity with a bullet header to keep Group E wide open heading into the concluding matchday.
Van der Vaart, who spent two years in Spain playing for Real Madrid, as well as a brief stint at Real Betis, has launched a incredible tirade at Enrique’s tactical approach, believing La Roja are all style and no substance.
“Spain are horrible,” Van der Vaart told Dutch broadcaster NOS.
“I hope we [the Dutch] end up playing them. They don’t have anything in that team. The only thing that they do is pass the ball from one side to the other — they don’t have a player who knows how to make a definitive pass.”
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Azpilicueta: Everyone wrote Chelsea off, and we won the Champions League
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has leapt to the defence of Enrique and Spain’s slow start, believing skeptics shouldn’t write the nation off after just two games, using his experience at club level this season as a reason to be cautiously optimistic ahead of their group-decider vs Slovakia on Wednesday.
The Blues were in limbo midway through the campaign after relieving Frank Lampard of his managerial duties and drafting in Thomas Tuchel, but the German coach exceeded expectations and brought home the club’s second European Cup, beating Manchester City in the final.
Azpilicueta believes Chelsea are therefore the perfect case study for why it is never wise to completely disparage a squad during a patchy spell.
“Many people thought during the season with Chelsea that we were dead,” Azpilicueta said.
“That’s the lesson, that you have to keep fighting until the final. It’s not about how you start — it’s about how you finish.
“I experienced that this year in the Champions League. This [Spain] team has the potential to face up to this challenge.”