Sunday, April 14, 2024

Del Bosque: Spain won’t make big changes for final


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POTCHEFSTROOM, South Africa (AP) — Spain coach Vicente del Bosque won’t be doing much tinkering with the European champion’s starting lineup for Sunday’s World Cup final against the Netherlands.
“We’ve kept a certain block of players in these six games, so I don’t think there will be many changes,” Del Bosque said Thursday.
Del Bosque fielded the same starting 11 for three straight games before replacing striker Fernando Torres with Pedro Rodriguez for Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Germany in which Carles Puyol scored. Pedro excelled in his first start, and only his fifth appearance.
“We’re very happy with Pedro’s work. We wanted him to attack (defender Phillip) Lahm rather than defend,” Del Bosque said.
Del Bosque said Spain will stick to the attractive style of football that has made it the favorite going into the match at Soccer City in Johannesburg, and that Torres is likely to feature in the final.
“If he’s played the first five games it’s because we believe he is in good physical shape,” Del Bosque said.
Puyol was still enjoying what may be the most important goal of his career, only his third in 89 internationals.
“They are moments you must experience, especially as a player who isn’t used to scoring and especially in such an important game,” the defender said. “But you just want to stay focused after that because there is still a lot of game left.”
The 32-year-old Puyol hasn’t decided yet if the final will be his last match for Spain. He has been a regular since his international debut in 2000.
“What is left ahead is so nice. We’ll have time to evaluate these things later,” Puyol said. “The decision hasn’t been taken and will only be after the final.”
Spain lost its first game to Switzerland, and is hoping to become the first team to win the World Cup after opening with a defeat. Puyol is staying focused on trying to keep the Netherlands from being the first team to score against Spain in the knockout stages.
“We were labeled a disaster after losing the first game,” Puyol said. “But we worry about ourselves only.
“My work is to defend. If we keep the goal at zero, we’re champions.”


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