Luis de la Fuente says Nations League is the start of new era

June 19 – Spain coach Luis de la Fuente has said his team’s Nations League victory, the first international title in a decade, could prompt more Spain triumphs in the future.

In a tight, hard-fought final, the Spanish edged Croatia on penalties to win the competition for the first time, adding to their Euro 2012 conquest, a tournament that marked the end of Spain’s best generation which lead by Andres Iniesta and Xavi had also won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. But de La Fuente has said Spain’s defeat of Croatia can be the of start of more success.

“These players are used to winning,” said De la Fuente.

“They have won so much coming through the ranks and this can continue, I think this competitive streak is back and we can look forward to winning more. I know this generation of players very well and I knew they wouldn’t let me down. It is a winning group and that sequence will continue in the future.”

It was de La Fuente’s fifth final and his first as head coach and victory provided a welcome relief for the manager, who had been under pressure after a 2-0 defeat by Scotland in the Euro 2024 qualifiers in March.

Backed by a partisan crowd, Croatia dominated and had Spain on the ropes, but Lovro Majer and Bruno Petkovic missed from the penalty spot while Spain converted all of their spot kicks to erase memories of the lost final against France in the 2021 Nations League.

In his analysis of the final, De la Fuente said: “The plan was to bring out the best in us and curb their virtues. We competed very well, but everything was pretty even because finals always are. I value this victory a lot because it was against a great rival. I am an admirer of Modric and I am pleased that he continues to play, the more the better.”

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