Former Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has candidly conceded he slipped up by not taking Sevilla attacker Vitolo to UEFA EURO 2016.* La Roja *were crying for someone with the capacity to make and take goals during a 2-1 loss to Croatia and a 2-0 defeat by Italy in the Round of 16.
Vitolo has started all six matches under new coach Julen Lopetegui. The 27-year-old has scored in three of Spain’s four 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifiers, including the goal that grabbed a point in Italy, and been involved in multiple more.
“Vitolo’s evolution hasn’t surprised me,” said Del Bosque. “We certainly weren’t smart regarding him. We must accept that he is a very good player. It’s something that we didn’t handle well.”
Vitolo has excelled again this season as Sevilla have surprisingly hung with Real Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga’s title race.
Pressure and expectation
Spain suffered disappointing Brazil 2014 and France 2016 campaigns. Del Bosque attributes this, in part, to the weight of expectation created by them winning back-to-back EUROs and South Africa 2010.
"We will always be compared to the triple-title-winning team until we next win a trophy, but we should look forward and keep fighting,” said the 65-year-old former Real Madrid and Spain midfielder.
Spain lead Group G in Russia 2018 qualifying, above Italy on goal difference and Israel by a point. They resume their campaign at home to Israel in March, before facing France in a friendly at the Stade de France.
The last World Cup devoid of Spain was the 1974 edition, after a side comprising Juan Asensi, Amancio and Quini lost a playoff with Yugoslavia for a ticket to West Germany.