Spain coach Julen Lopetegui gave short shrift to suggestions he may react to David De Gea’s uncharacteristic blunder against Switzerland by replacing him in goal for Spain’s final World Cup warm-up match against Tunisia.
The Manchester United stopper has been in fantastic form for his club this season – named the Red Devils’ Player of the Season for a fourth time in five years and winning the Premier League’s Golden Glove award.
But a huge blunder saw De Gea spill Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross, with allowed Ricardo Rodriguez to tap in from close-range as the Swiss earned a 1-1 draw at Villarreal’s Estadio de la Ceramica on Sunday after Alvaro Odriozola’s sensational volley had opened the scoring for La Roja.
“David knows that I know he’s going to take us forward in many games and I have no doubt [about him],” Lopetegui, who remains unbeaten in the 19 matches he has taken charge of since being appointed following Euro 2016, told reporters, as written by Goal.com.
Spain have one more warm-up game scheduled before opening their World Cup campaign with a derby clash against Iberian neighbours Portugal at Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium on June 15.
With next Saturday’s match against Tunisia taking place in Krasnodar, the Switzerland encounter may have been the last time former Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta represented Spain on home soil.
Iniesta was substituted early in the second half to a standing ovation after shaking off a bang to the knee sustained in a challenge with Swiss striker Breel Embolo.
And despite a magical career winding its way down to a conclusion, Lopetegui was happy to see the diminutive star of Spain’s 2010 World Cup triumph prove he can still play a pivotal role for his nation.
“The ovation has been won by the performance of his entire career,” Lopetegui said of Iniesta, who has signed for J1 League side Vissel Kobe.
“But the most important thing is the match he has made, showing his absolute validity.
“We are in the preparation phase and we were thinking of replacing him. What matters most to us is what he is still about to give us.”
In the first of our live preview shows at Sport360 studios looking ahead to the World Cup in Russia, Alex Broun sits down with two of our squad to discuss the teams, players and fixtures to look out for in Group A – home to tournament hosts Russia, as well as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.
Alex is joined by Brendon Netto and Abdelrahman El Kallaway.
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui dismissed concerns surrounding his team’s finishing ability after a rare mistake by David De Gea meant they were held to a 1-1 friendly draw with Switzerland.
Alvaro Odriozola’s fine first-half volley represented the sole occasion they capitalised on their superior creativity in Villarreal, despite the way they largely dominated possession.
De Gea uncharacteristically then gifted an equalising goal to Ricardo Rodriguez when fumbling a routine shot into his path, potentially robbing Spain of the momentum they hoped to build before the World Cup begins.
They face Tunisia in a final friendly next Saturday before their World Cup opener against neighbours Portugal on June 15.
They will hope to more clinical in those matches than they were against the Swiss, but Lopetegui said the Spain football team’s official website: “The most difficult thing is to generate chances.
“The team has done a lot of good things, we have not been lucky on the occasions we have had; there will be days when we will take better chances.
“I liked that we were able to create a lot of chances (against) a difficult team like Switzerland. We’ve maintained a very high level, we had to adjust some things at half-time, but in general we have many positive things, no injuries and we continue preparing to arrive in perfect condition to the World Cup.
“Of course there are things to improve, but that is what we discussed in the dressing room, we have to face the second week of preparation and keep working.”
Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said in quotes reported by L’Equipe: “This kind of result is important against a very strong team, we have resisted and it is the result of our work.
“We must be able to reproduce over 90 minutes what we have achieved in the first half, be more precise and leave less space.”
They are still to face Japan in a friendly on Friday before their World Cup campaign begins against Brazil, but expect the injured Granit Xhaka to make an imminent return to training.
“I am confident that Xhaka will be back with us from Tuesday,” Petkovic said.