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Morientes has his say on all things Spain

Published: Saturday 30 June 2012, 14.58CET
Former Spain forward Fernando Morientes reflected on the holders' use of a 'false nine', their impressive defence and their final opponents Italy as he spoke to
Published: Saturday 30 June 2012, 14.58CET

Morientes has his say on all things Spain

Former Spain forward Fernando Morientes reflected on the holders' use of a 'false nine', their impressive defence and their final opponents Italy as he spoke to

Vicente del Bosque has sprung a couple of surprises at UEFA EURO 2012 with his choice of forward, be it Cesc Fàbregas operating in a withdrawn role or Álvaro Negredo playing through the middle as he did against Portugal. What better person, then, to give his expert opinion on this, the holders' campaign and the threat posed by final opponents Italy than Fernando Morientes, a man who scored 27 goals in 47 outings for La Roja between 1998 and 2007. A lot has been spoken about the 'false nine' Vicente Del Bosque has been using at UEFA EURO 2012. Have you been surprised by this ploy?

Fernando Morientes: No, because I've seen it used various times in qualifying and friendlies. It's one of those systems that isn't the coach's absolute favourite but works well within the Spanish system given the group of players he has. Why have Spain conceded only one goal at UEFA EURO 2012?

Morientes: Apart from the mentality, which is a group one they've formed from playing together, they're like a club where everyone knows each other. They've played a lot of games together, which is crucial in preventing mistakes when it comes to positioning and movement. The combination of all that − and the mentality that this team possesses, where it really is one for all and all for one – means that from front to back there's so much solidarity. Everyone gets back and helps each other out. What do you think of the centre-back pairing of Gerard Piqué and Sergio Ramos?

Morientes: It's the strongest at the EURO, without a shadow of a doubt. They play for two of the best clubs in the world, Real Madrid and Barcelona – that gives them a boost, because they're in teams that have the winning habit. The most important thing is that they know each other well. It seems that one makes up for anything the other may lack. They're forming a partnership which is truly exceptional in all senses of the word. What have you made of Italy?

Morientes: Everyone was saying that Italy were a bit short of options, that they were dogged by problems, but if there's one thing that Italy have it's that when it comes to the crunch they're among the best.

Whatever we think about Catenaccio and defensive football, they've surprised everyone in this tournament with two strikers and an expansive style of play. They've taken the game to their opponents, but they've also shown a defensive solidity that we're all used to. Going forward they've changed, we've seen that in their last few games.

‏@JohnDonohoe95: What formation would you like to see Spain use on Sunday?

Morientes: I'm not sure, but the one they've used so far makes the most sense for the reasons I've mentioned – the players they have, the overall setup. The 4-3-3 really suits the players. At the end of the day, the coach might have a system of play that he prefers, but he has to find a way with the players at his disposal.

‏@Ratroute9: Which Spain player is in the best form right now?

Morientes: There are a lot to choose from, which is a nice problem to have, and so I'd struggle to answer the question. I'd probably say [Andrés] Iniesta has reached a new level, and if I had to settle for one player it would probably be him.

‏@carloshego: Who will play up front for Spain in the final?

Morientes: It depends how they play. I don't think it matters if he goes with the same system as against Portugal [when Negredo started] or with Cesc – it's a matter of personal preference, and of who will be the reference point. I thought [Fernando] Llorente would have had more time or been more important, but that hasn't been the case. Either way, I don't think it matters whether he starts with Cesc or Fernando [Torres].

Last updated: 26/10/12 15.54CET

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