Vicente del Bosque has said he is looking forward to facing France in the quarter-finals of the European Championships on Saturday but has warned against complacency on the part of the world champions.
The two sides last met in a friendly prior to the 2010 World Cup, when goals from Sergio Ramos and David Villa handed Spain a 2-0 win at the Stade de France, but Del Bosque is aware of how much the French side has changed in the intervening two years.
He told Radio Marca: “We know the equality there is in the competition. Any team is difficult but France are playing well and have a good team.
“They have made changes that have got results. They have got the formula right and Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa, Samir Nasri, Florent Malouda and Franck Ribery are all very good players.
“Moreover, we are going to have a triple ration of France in a short time because we meet them in the qualification group for the World Cup. The competition is like this and we have to accept who we have been paired with.
“What I don’t want is this Spanish custom that we don’t have to be careful of the opponent. It is a huge match, a match that appeals to everyone.
“We have time to think about the team we will pick on Saturday and we will adopt the line-up we believe will be the best.”
Del Bosque was however very defensive of his side’s display in the 1-0 win over Croatia in their final group game. Jesus Navas’ goal three minutes from time was enough to guarantee the European champions top spot in Group C, but they failed to find their normal rhythm for large spells and were even thankful to Iker Casillas for a fine save from Ivan Rakitic when the score was still 0-0.
“We had 70% of possession, we shot on goal 16 or 17 times and they had only seven or eight attempts,” he said. “We dominated more than Croatia and we didn’t play badly. We weren’t as bad as it appeared to me at the time.
“It was an awkward game for us. We had a lot of compliments rained down on us the week before and there was a stream of comments that we were superior to the rest.
“The conservatism that sometimes doesn’t lead to great football could have cost us and possibly we didn’t have a lot of penetration but in defence we were pretty good.”