Collective understanding crucial for Hernández
Thursday, 25 July 2013
Thankful for the high spirits encountered within the Spain squad, striker Iker Hernández is hoping their close-knit environment can lead to more success in Lithuania.
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With their sights firmly set on a fourth successive UEFA European Under-19 Championship semi-final appearance, morale is high within a Spain set-up that forward Iker Hernández describes as "more than just a squad".
Luis de la Fuente's side followed their opening Group A win against Portugal with Tuesday's 2-0 defeat of hosts Lithuania, Hernández scoring both goals, and for the Real Sociedad de Fútbol striker it was the product of others' hard work. "My goals came thanks to my team-mates," he told UEFA.com. "Both chances came from the wing [assists from Álvaro Vadillo and Adama Traoré]; I just had to knock them in."
Describing the encounter against Lithuania as a "difficult game," Hernández added that he and his team-mates were made to work very hard by the tournament debutants. "We could see from the beginning they were going to play very deep defensively," he said. "We wanted to tire them out by moving them from side to side and looked to take advantage of the chances we had. We managed to score an early goal and then little by little went looking for more."
Spain's second arrived in the 74th minute and wrapped up another three points for the side who now lead the section with maximum points ahead of a final group game against the Netherlands. "Our next task is to try to beat the Netherlands and secure our passage through to the last four," the 19-year-old said. "There are no individual goals here, only collective ones. We want to win this tournament but we know we have to go step by step.
"The atmosphere within our group is fantastic," he continued. "Much more than a squad, we feel like a team. We spend a lot of time together every day and have been training together since the Under-16s and U17s. We know how each other play and that makes things so much easier."
What is not straightforward is the intense work-rate Spain need to apply in order to break down opponents, something pointed out by Hernández's team-mate, Julio César. "Spain will always encounter difficulties as we are now known as the team to beat," he said. "Every side that plays us gives 100%. We have to continue being focused all the while looking to win."