Thiago and Spain 'hungry' for Euro 2020 start after fraught preparations

By Sports Desk June 11, 2021

Thiago Alcantara says a Spain squad mixing youth and experience are desperate for Euro 2020 to begin after disrupted preparations for the tournament.

Luis Enrique's side get their campaign underway on Monday when they take on Sweden at La Cartuja in Seville.

Their planning for finals was thrown into disarray when Sergio Busquets tested positive for coronavirus last week, which forced the senior squad into isolation amid fears of an outbreak.

Diego Llorente returned test results later confirmed to be a false positive, while the Under-21 squad were used for the friendly match with Lithuania on Tuesday.

The senior players are due to be given COVID-19 vaccination jabs on Friday and no further positive cases have been identified, meaning Luis Enrique should have a strong group available for selection against Sweden.

Liverpool midfielder Thiago accepts the build-up has been far from ideal but is now eager to get the tournament underway.

He told Marca: "Football has changed. Beyond talent, it will be the teams who are best prepared who will compete. We're talking about the best players in Europe at the best tournament.

"We've gotten used to playing under pressure. We're a very young team but used to that level of competition. The youngsters give us veterans a hunger to compete.

"There's another very important thing: we're very invested in what the coach asks of us. That comes from a long time ago, not from now. We're a hard-working team and we're hungry.

"I know [Luis Enrique] from the Barca youth system. He has very clear ideas. He loves the pressure after losing, possession... and winning, which is what we all want.

"The good thing about Luis is that he is always the same. He's no different depending on who he talks to."

Thiago insisted the Spain players coped well with the news of Busquets and that they are far more used to such situations than in the early stages of the pandemic.

"We're used to this situation. It's been a year and a half of living with COVID. We've been accustomed to training individually or collectively, but always with the objective of competing," he said.

"Fear was experienced in the first stage of the pandemic. It was an uncertainty on a global level. We didn't know what was going to happen.

"I was in Germany with my family and yes, there was that feeling of fear. Not here. We have great professionals around us and we comply with all the protocols they ask us to follow."

Related items

  • 'It doesn't look good' - Aston Villa boss Gerrard expects Bailey to be out at least a couple games 'It doesn't look good' - Aston Villa boss Gerrard expects Bailey to be out at least a couple games

    Jamaica international and Aston Villa wide player Leon Bailey is likely to miss at least a couple of games after leaving the pitch in the first half against Manchester City earlier this week.

    The 24-year-old cut a frustrated figure after he was forced to leave the pitch after just 30 minutes, apparently suffering an issue with his thigh.  The midfielder had previously missed a few weeks after suffering an issue with the muscle after coming on against Everton in September.

    New Villa coach Steven Gerrard admits that the injury did not look good but revealed the team was awaiting the results of a scan.

    "Leon's one doesn't look great," Gerrard told BirminghamLive.

    "He obviously has a muscle problem which, when he sprinted, he pulled up. He has a problem that we will analyse in the coming days,” he added.

    "He will need an MRI scan and we will have to find out what the damage is. It looks like he will miss at least a couple of games. He was starting to look a real threat in training."

    Villa will be back in action this weekend with a home fixture against Leicester City.  Bailey has missed five out of 14 Premier League games due to injuries this season.

  • Ronaldo scores 800th career goal in Man Utd clash with Arsenal Ronaldo scores 800th career goal in Man Utd clash with Arsenal

    Cristiano Ronaldo reached yet another milestone when he scored his 800th career goal in Manchester United's clash with Arsenal on Thursday.

    Ronaldo was reinstated to the United starting XI after being benched for the 1-1 draw at Chelsea, and he justified his return when he converted Marcus Rashford's cross early in the second half to put the Red Devils 2-1 ahead.

    The strike takes Ronaldo to 11 goals in 16 appearances in all competitions in his second spell at United, having sensationally returned to Old Trafford in August when it initially looked as though he was heading to Manchester City.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored a combined 685 club goals for Real Madrid, Juventus, Sporting CP and United, with the other 115 coming with Portugal – no one has more than him on the international stage in the history of the men's game.

     

    Ronaldo was most prolific in Madrid, scoring an incredible 450 goals in 438 appearances to become the club's all-time leading scorer, also providing 132 assists.

    His best club season also came with Los Blancos, netting 61 times from just 47.9 expected goals (xG) in 54 games across all competitions in 2014-15.

    In that campaign, Ronaldo registered the best minutes-per-goal ratio (76.1) of any player from Europe's top five leagues to have scored at least 10 in all competitions.

    The Portugal captain's favourite opponent is Sevilla, scoring 27 times in just 18 appearances against them, although he will also have fond memories of Granada and Espanyol, scoring five goals in a game against each of them in 2015.

    Not only is the 36-year-old forward the highest-scoring player in international football, he also boasts the all-time record in the Champions League (140).

    Ronaldo's effort against the Gunners was his first in the Premier League in over a month, last netting in the competition back on October 30 when United beat Tottenham 3-0 away from home.

  • Eriksen agent says 'it's not the time' to discuss Inter midfielder's future Eriksen agent says 'it's not the time' to discuss Inter midfielder's future

    Christian Eriksen's agent Martin Schoots says it is not the right time to discuss the Inter midfielder's future following his return to training with Danish side Odense.

    Denmark international Eriksen has not played since suffering a cardiac arrest during his country's opening Euro 2020 game in June.

    The 29-year-old was given CPR before subsequently undergoing successful heart surgery.

    He has since been fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), meaning he is unable to play for Inter in Serie A due to not meeting the "requirements of achieving sporting fitness" in Italy.

    Eriksen would be allowed to play in other domestic leagues across Europe, however, and it was revealed on Thursday that he is now training with Odense, the club he represented at youth level before joining Ajax in 2008. 

    That has led to talk of a possible playing return for Eriksen in the near future, but Schoots says the playmaker is not looking that far ahead.

    "Like any person having experienced what Christian has, he is working on his recovery," agent Schoots told Spox. 

    "He likes to do this in his own environment in Milan or when he is in Denmark, privately, in his country of birth.

    "Occasionally, when he has some time in Denmark and when he feels like it, he may use the facilities of Odense BK, which is a great gesture from his former club.

    "Chris has a positive, optimistic and energetic character, but it is not the time to talk about football. Only Christian will decide if and when this moment will come."

    Inter confirmed in October that they were open to allowing the midfielder to join a new club in a league where he will be permitted to play.

    Eriksen joined Inter from Tottenham in January 2020 and has made 25 appearances for the Serie A champions in all competitions.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.