De la Fuente says the ‘process’ is working as Croatia final nears

June 16 – Luis de la Fuente said he felt vindicated by Spain’s Nations League semi-final win against Italy after a stuttering start to his tenure.

An internal appointment, Spain’s new manager De la Fuente succeeded Luis Enrique who departed after Spain’s second-round exit from the World Cup, but his reign got off to a slow start with a defeat in March’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Scotland after a 3-0 win against Norway.

“We just needed time, I have always said this is a process,” said De la Fuente at a news conference. “It takes time to establish ideas, we were unlucky that day and didn’t get a good result against Scotland, but now with more knowledge of each other and more time in training, things are different.”

“I was sure that we had been putting in the hard work, that the players were committed and the players were starting to understand the concepts. In terms of the previous games, the commitment was there as well.”

De la Fuente highlighted Spain’s strength-in-depth at the back when he lauded debutant Robin Le Normand who partnered Aymeric Laporte in central defence and maintained his composure and played well after conceding a penalty in the 11th minute. Born in Pabu, France, Le Normand recently chose to represent Spain.

“He has so many attributes,” said De la Fuente. “He is a very calm guy, he takes things in his stride. He doesn’t get nervous in difficult moments. We are not surprised, because we know what he is like – he may be an uncommon quantity for many.”

“I am in a privileged position where I get to choose between fabulous players. I just try to get it right, but it is easy to get it wrong as well.”

Those fabulous players and De La Fuente’s ‘process’ will have their biggest test to date on Sunday in the Nations League final.

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