Advertisement

Gary Neville haunted by brutal Marc Cucurella comments as Chelsea star targets Euro 2024 glory

Marc Cucurella
-Credit: (Image: Harry Langer/DeFodi Images/DeFodi via Getty Images)


Gary Neville has been haunted by his harsh comments about Marc Cucurella, who helped Spain book a place in the Euro 2024 semi-finals on Friday evening. The 25-year-old defender has started all but one of La Roja's games at the tournament in Germany this summer, playing a crucial role in Luis de la Fuente's side.

Cucurella completed 90 minutes in each of Spain's opening two matches at the European championships, enjoying a pair of clean sheets in wins over Croatia and Italy. The Chelsea star was rewarded for his efforts with a rest against Albania before returning to the starting lineup for the round of 16.

Operating at left-back, Cucurella helped the three-time champions cruise to a 4-1 victory against Georgia. Then, on Friday night, he played 120 minutes against Germany, Spain winning 2-1 courtesy of a last-ditch header from Mikel Merino.

The Blues left-back has been one of the most impressive defenders at the tournament, leaving Neville red-faced. Ahead of Spain's opener against Croatia, the former Manchester United defender claimed Cucurella will dent his country's chances of winning the Euros.

"We didn’t think he’d play," Neville told ITV. "He’s not been convincing at Chelsea, he’s played a few games towards the end of the season, he’s aggressive, he’s tenacious, he’s a busy little full-back."

Contrary to Neville's comments, Cucurella enjoyed a spritely end to the season for the Blues, relishing a new role as an inverted full-back. The 49-year-old continued: "That price tag still, to be fair, astounds everybody I think to this day.

READ MORE: Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs wage bill compared to Premier League rivals

READ MORE: Supercomputer predicts Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs final Premier League positions

"The Spanish defence has got a lot of experience now but there’s something just missing from Spain that makes you feel like they’re going to go all the way. And I have to say, him [Cucurella] being at left-back probably is another example of why we think that."

Ian Wright suggested that Spain might be saving Alejandro Grimaldo, who won the Bundesliga unbeaten with Bayer Leverkusen last season, for when La Roja are in search of a goal. The Arsenal legend said: "You know what, I was thinking because Grimaldo, who has done really well for Leverkusen.

"I think they’ve gone a little bit more defensive with Cucurella. Because Grimaldo can get forward maybe they’re saving him, they want to keep it tight because of the narrowness of Croatia."

Neville then added: "There’s a massive shift in the last couple of years where actually these attacking full-backs now, we’ve seen Arsenal and Manchester City in our league playing with four centre-backs, really narrow defences. I think managers are going a little bit more cautious with their back fours and letting the other players in front almost get on with it."

Following Spain's win over Germany, Cucurella will now begin preparations for the Euro 2024 semi-final against France in Tuesday night. The Chelsea defender will be hoping he can continue his rich vein of form when he faces Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe.