Tokyo Olympics: Ceballos excited to renew relationship with de la Fuente

By Sports Desk July 20, 2021

Real Madrid midfielder and former Arsenal loanee Dani Ceballos is relishing the prospect of combining with Spain's Olympic head coach Luis de la Fuente in Tokyo, having previously worked with him at Under-19 level.

Spain head into the Tokyo Olympics as one of the favourites for the gold medal, given De la Fuente has been able to call upon six players that reached the semi-final stages at Euro 2020 with the senior national side.

The names of their star-studded line-up would be enough to frighten any Olympic opposition as they have included Pedri, Unai Simon, Dani Olmo, Mikel Oyarzabal, Eric Garcia and Pau Torres.

While the players on the pitch paint an attractive picture that could see Spain win their second gold and first since 1992, Ceballos explained how his relationship with De la Fuente could help him thrive.

"I have had great coaches, but with Luis [de la Fuente] we have a different relationship. We have linked up very well from the first tournament (Under-19 European Championship in 2015)", the former Arsenal midfielder said in Tuesday's press conference.

"From then on we have forged a great relationship. He has given me confidence and I have been lucky to give it back to him on the field."

De la Fuente's men get their campaign underway versus Egypt on Thursday before subsequent fixtures against Argentina and Australia and Ceballos, who played 49 times across his two-year loan spell at Arsenal, is aware of the different challenges that the Games provide.

"It is a completely different competition than what we football players are used to. It is a unique opportunity", he said.

"It is really difficult to qualify for it because it has a lot of requirements that are really tough to meet. But this team has done a lot of things to deserve it, and now it is the time to enjoy it."

Barcelona youngster Pedri did not misplace a pass in normal time during the Euro 2020 semi-final against Italy and created 11 chances at the tournament, one more than fellow squad member Olmo (10) and one fewer than first-placed Jordi Alba (12).

 

Both will be team-mates of Ceballos and the midfielder praised all of his colleagues as they prepare to attempt to recreate the 1992 heroics which sealed home Olympic success in Barcelona.

"We have a really great team. On paper, I think we can be among the favourites, but in reality there are a lot of fantastic national teams. On the field it is going to be different", he said

"Playing in this Olympic Games has been a special dream and I have been reading about what happened in that [the 1992] tournament. Especially in the final, that there was extra time and that Spain won against Poland with a goal from Kiko Narvaez.

"Hopefully we can repeat what they did in their day."

Like Ceballos, De la Fuente spoke with pride about leading his nation at the Games, while he also discussed the possibility of following in the footsteps of those from Barcelona 1992.

"It is a pride being here. It is a different feeling from other tournaments because the Olympic Games are unique. It is a totally special experience, and we are wishing to start enjoying it as a competition and living the Olympic environment.", the head coach said.

"We are feeling the same they felt, a great desire to start competing, a great conviction that we have a great team to compete for everything. And feeling capable of fighting for the maximum. I am sure we are feeling what they felt.

"We are going to try to be up to the standards expected of us, and I am sure that we are going to perform to that level and fulfil the expectations we are creating."

Related items

  • Real Sociedad 0-2 Real Madrid: Vinicius stars after Benzema blow Real Sociedad 0-2 Real Madrid: Vinicius stars after Benzema blow

    Vinicius Junior capped a dazzling display with a goal as Real Madrid claimed a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad to restore their eight-point cushion at the top of LaLiga.

    Brazil forward Vinicius opening the scoring two minutes after half-time following a fine piece of individual skill and some neat interplay with Luka Jovic.

    It made the 21-year-old the first player born in 2000 or later to reach double figures for goals in a single LaLiga season.

    Jovic added a second with his first goal of the season when he bravely headed in from close range. Madrid are comfortably ahead of second-placed Sevilla and have a 10-point advantage over defending champions Atletico Madrid who are down in fourth.

    Sociedad began with intent, although Madrid had the best early chance when Vinicius saw his shot from the edge of the box saved by Alex Remiro.

    Shortly afterwards Alexander Isak got his head on the end of Diego Rico's teasing delivery but Eder Militao was well positioned to clear the danger.

    Madrid were dealt a blow in the 17th minute when striker and captain Karim Benzema limped out clutching his hamstring and was replaced by Jovic.

    Isak fired wide from a good position before the break while the lively Vinicius and Rodrygo were both kept at bay by Sociedad goalkeeper Remiro.

    Vinicius looked Madrid's most likely source of a goal and delivered moments after half-time when he jinked in from the left flank, exchanged passes with Jovic, and struck a low shot into the left corner.

    Jovic reacted quickest to nod in Casemiro's knockdown in the box from a Toni Kroos corner 10 minutes later to increase Madrid's advantage.

    Sociedad found it difficult to break down Carlo Ancelotti's side in the remainder of the game as Madrid chalked up their seventh league away win of the season.

  • Lens 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain: Wijnaldum salvages a point after Navas howler Lens 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain: Wijnaldum salvages a point after Navas howler

    Georginio Wijnaldum scored in stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 draw for a below-par Paris Saint-Germain against Lens at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Saturday.

    After Lionel Messi hit the post, Mauricio Pochettino's side, who were held to a 0-0 draw by Nice on Wednesday, looked like they were on their way to a second Ligue 1 defeat of the season when Keylor Navas dropped Seko Fofana's effort into his own net after 62 minutes. 

    Wijnaldum – introduced in the 70th minute for Leandro Paredes – headed home fellow substitute Kylian Mbappe's left-wing cross two minutes into added time to secure a point for the leaders, though.

    The result meant PSG moved 13 points clear of second-placed Marseille, who have a game in hand, while Lens remain in fifth.

  • Vinicius Junior makes LaLiga history as Brazil star strikes again for Real Madrid Vinicius Junior makes LaLiga history as Brazil star strikes again for Real Madrid

    Vinicius Junior ticked off another landmark achievement as the Real Madrid attacker became the first player born in 2000 or later to hit 10 goals in a LaLiga season. 

    The 21-year-old Brazilian, born on July 12, 2000, continued his highly impressive start to the campaign with a classy opener against Real Sociedad on Saturday. 

    He played a clever one-two with Luka Jovic before striking a powerful shot low into the left corner to put Madrid 1-0 up after 47 minutes at the Reale Arena. 

    It was his 10th goal in 16 games in LaLiga this season, underlining the progress he has made under Carlo Ancelotti this term. 

    In his first three seasons at Madrid, Vinicius scored a total of eight goals across 82 LaLiga appearances, albeit starting only 43 of those games. 

    That includes three league goals last season when Zinedine Zidane was in charge. 

    Vinicius, fast emerging as one of the most exciting talents in Europe, has scored four goals in his past three away games in LaLiga. 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.