Rodrigo: "Group unity will give us the strength to achieve something important"

Krasnodar (Rusia) 11 Jun 2018
Antonio D. Muñoz
Carmelo Rubio
The Spanish player recalled his youth with Thiago, squad teammate, and insisted on the importance of strengthening Spain's virtues ahead rival's characteristics

Fantastic season: "For all of us, being here means we've had a good season. In football, the past doesn't count, whatever happens in the first match does. We have faith in what we did in the qualifier stage and the friendlies. We're prepared. This is the World Cup, nothing is a given." 
Competition among forwards: "We all want to play, the bad thing would be if we didn't want to. But we're all ready to give whatever is required. Regardless of who plays, they'll give their all for the team. We're a group of 23 players. Group unity will give us the strength to do something important." 

Portugal: "They're greatest reference is Cristiano, one of the best players in history. In the last EURO they proved they're more than that, that they're a solid group. They proved football is a team sport. Unity leads to strength. We have to be focused, they're the rival to beat. We have to come out concentrated on winning the match." 

Rival approach: "Portugal is a team which is comfortable in counterattacks, working on rival mistakes. They have fast players. Against Spain it's difficult to have a high ball possession. I hope they focus on counterattacks and closing up. They have quality when it comes to playing football. They'll try to hold onto the ball and to play with it. The important thing is that we have to try to overcome the rival. They're the current EURO champions and are among the favourites. This is a World Cup and we have to prove things on the pitch. We'll see what happens. We shouldn't change our style, we have sufficient arms to face any national team." 

Lopetegui: "He hasn't changed since I met him. The National Team is working in a uniform fashion since the youth and academy teams. The coach knows us since then. Time goes by and he suggests new players, but we see it as something natural." 

U21s in Israel with Thiago: "To be able to reach these heights with a friend from your youth like Thiago is hard to imagine we are here, that we were U21 EURO champions... It's a nice story and I am happy to be able to share this experience with im. Our families are proud of us. I have fond memories of my youth in Galicia." 

Other favourites: "I think Belgium has a great national side, it's the best in their history and they could deliver a great role." 

Opening match: "It's important but not definite. It's important to start on the right foot, but we have examples since 2010, with what happened against Switzerland. We only think about winning, which is our greatest aim, to deliver a good match and win it. And from then on, we have to carry on the same, with the same focus." 

Strikers' virtues: "We're strikers with different characteristics. Iago is very versatile, Diego Costa works more in the box and I'm between both of them. The coach will have to decide, depending on what he sees in practice and in previous matches. The rival and their way of playing will have to be taken into account when making a decision. What is clear is that whoever plays and whoever doesn't will give their all for the team. We have to count on all the players and group union will be key."