Luis de la Fuente warns caution but says Spain will improve again

June 25 – Spain manager Luis de la Fuente has called for his side to “keep their feet on the ground” following their 1-0 victory against Albania and perfect record in Group B.

The Spanish wrapped up Group B with a simple 1-0 win against Albania after de la Fuente had made ten changes from the side that swooped past Italy 2-0.

Ferran Torres scored a first-half winner from a weighted Dani Olmo pass to conclude a perfect first round for Euro 2012 winners. In the ‘group of death’, they breezed past Croatia, impressed against Italy and did enough with a reserve side against Sylvinho’s Albania.

At a news conference, de la Fuente said: “We are free to dream but we have to keep our feet on the ground. Dreaming is a great engine to generate positive aspects. Every game is very tight – winning three games and keeping a clean sheet is very difficult. It hasn’t happened for a long time – we need to keep a cool head and we want to keep our feet on the ground.”

Spain’s perfect record has meant they have become favourites to win the tournament. No other heavyweight side has impressed as much as de la Fuente’s team.

On Sunday, Germany fluffed their lines against Switzerland and Italy only squeezed into the last 16 with a last-minute equaliser against Croatia who look certain to be going home. England have become rank outsiders following underwhelming outings against both Serbia and Denmark.

De La Fuente however downplayed La Roja’s role as favourites.

“We appreciate that people understand the value and the talent of these footballers, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. Our next opponents are going to be very complicated. I want us to be cautious. We know how it is in Spain: one day you are at the top and the next day you are nothing.”

In the round of 16, Spain will play one of the best third-place teams in Group A, D, E or F and their next opponents have been warned again as de la Fuente repeated that his team still have room for improvement.

His reserve XI, with a star role for Olmo, proved that Spain’s strength in depth is perhaps unrivalled. After the Italy game, de la Fuente had already emphasized that for Spain the sky is the limit.

He explained: “I insist there is room for improvement.”

“Our game plan developed just as we had foreseen against an opponent with plenty of energy. We lost a bit of control in the second half. Of course, there is room for improvement. We have a great and exceptional generation of footballers who can still give a lot. They are the first who want to improve – when you play against the best, you have to be at your best.”

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