Spain have best players and no limits to potential, De la Fuente warns rivals

<span>Sapin’s players celebrate the own goal which earned them a victory they richly deserved against the reigning European champions Italy.</span><span>Photograph: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Sapin’s players celebrate the own goal which earned them a victory they richly deserved against the reigning European champions Italy.Photograph: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

Luis de la Fuente insisted that Spain’s players are the best in the world and the selección has no limits after they “nullified” Italy in Gelsenkirschen. It took a Riccardo Calafiori own goal for Spain to seal the victory that secured them first place in the Group of Death with a game to spare but the level of performance made a mockery of how tight the scoreline was, with Luciano Spalletti admitting that his team could not live with Spain’s speed and precision.

De la Fuente described Spain as “fantastic” and said that it was the best they had played since he took over as coach following the 2022 World Cup. He also insisted that Spain would not be weakened by the eulogies that will now follow this display and that they still have margin for improvement.

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“In all areas we were superior to them,” the Spain coach said. “I would like us to appreciate how difficult it is to nullify a great team like Italy as we did today. That invites me to believe that we have a real chance to improve, but we will keep our feet on the floor. This opens a magnificent door and a magnificent horizon. There is a long way to go but we are on the path.”

“I will never tire of championing our national product: Spanish players, Spanish football. We are the best in my opinion. I would like there to be recognition for this generation of magnificent footballers. For me, they’re the best. The only thing I don’t know is where our ceiling is. I can’t see a limit at the moment.”

With the Italian media talking about a lesson in football, and calling this match a drubbing, De la Fuente was asked if that might be dangerous for Spain’s long-term prospects in the Euros.

“No, because I know what these guys are made of,” he said. “I know them well, I know who they are, they know who I am, how we behave. I am very happy but we still haven’t done anything. We will act with prudence and humility and respect. We won’t lose our heads. I saw the potential my team has today. We played at a fantastic level. It pleases us that people think we can get to the final but we will go step by step.”