14.06.2023 13:40 h

Spain coach facing Italy as if it were his "last match"

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said he would take on Italy in the Nations League semi-final on Thursday as if it was his "last game" in charge.

The 61-year-old replaced Luis Enrique in December after Spain crashed out of the World Cup in the last 16 and has faced criticism ahead of the "final four".

Spain suffered a 2-0 defeat by Scotland in Euro 2024 qualifying in March, and despite beating Norway 3-0 in his first match in charge, the performance was far from convincing.

"We think about getting to the final. There is no 'next day', I look at it as if it's my last game -- not just now, but always," De la Fuente told a news conference Wednesday.

"The only way to face something with energy, and with desire and giving absolutely everything, is to think that it's the last chance of your life.

"But I've always done it, that's how it is, as if it's my last game. We're going to go all out, I don't think about what comes next."

Spain last won a trophy when they beat Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final.

"It's a historic opportunity to win a trophy in two matches, we're ready to face a game of this level," continued De la Fuente.

"We've got the power to win any title, Spain has very good players, but we're taking on opponents in the same position.

"Italy is quite a similar national team to us now. We're still in the process of consolidating our idea, we've had very little time to do it.

"This could be a Euro or World Cup final. Details will be decisive, we'll be at the level that's demanded of us."

Spain reached the Nations League finals by finishing ahead of Portugal, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, with Luis Enrique at the helm.

"We are privileged to be here, we have to value the work of the whole technical team that achieved this," added De la Fuente.

The coach was defended this week by some of his squad, including Jesus Navas and Unai Simon, and defender Jordi Alba followed suit.

"I think he's very calm, everyone has to be united," said the left-back, currently without a club after leaving Barcelona.

"Sometimes the players are the ones who have to take a step forward. We can't doubt the work that being done, I think the work is very good."

Alba insisted he was not worried about his future and was focused on the Nations League.

"It's a new era, everyone is excited, I am excited as captain," said the 34-year-old.