Alba’s return for Spain fortifies title ambition

June 14 – Spain oozed confidence ahead of their semi-final against Italy with Champions League winner Rodri reinforcing the squad and Jordi Alba returning.

The defender has featured more than 400 times in 11 seasons for FC Barcelona, winning the 2015 Champions League, but was released by the Catalan club at the end of the season. He was also dropped from the Spain squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers in March, but he returns for the Nations League Finals, a chance he wants to seize.

“I value this call-up,” said Alba, on 91 caps, at a news conference. “I’ve come to help and I’m convinced that things will go well.”

“The decision I make about my future will not depend on whether or not I can come to the Spanish team. The coach has seen what I can do and picked me and I see myself capable of continuing for more years. It is always a delight to be here with the national side. What I see is very positive. From within we are very united. It is a very nice tournament to play and hopefully, we can win it.”

Ahead of the semi-final with Italy in Enschede, Alba remained guarded about his future at club level. He added: “As you know I don’t have a team and I’m not worried about being here without a team. It is a decision that I have to make with my family.”

Alba’s teammate Rodri arrived in the Spain camp in high spirits after his second-half goal against Inter Milan crowned Manchester City European champions for the first time to complete the club’s treble. Rodri captained Spain for the first time in March’s 2-0 defeat to Scotland. “He cannot be more motivated than after winning a Champions League and being named as the man of the match,” said Spanish coach De la Fuente. “He has put Manchester City in the history books. It’s, of course, very difficult to win the Champions League.”

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