Koke, Morata add strength to Spanish 'three-peat' bid
Saint-Martin-de-Re, June 10
Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke believes Spain have the perfect blend of youth and experience to win an unprecedented third consecutive European Championship in France.
La Roja’s run of three consecutive major tournament triumphs came to an end in spectacular fashion as they crashed out of the World Cup after just two games in Brazil two years ago.
However, Koke is hopeful a core of players that have graduated to the senior team from the side that won the 2013 under-21 Euros can add fresh blood to a squad also containing veterans of Spain’s golden run between 2008 and 2012 like Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta. “There are people that have won the under-21 Euros and then the veteran group. We are all desperate to do well to bring a third straight Euros back to Spain. I’m excited to play and win. That is one of things the new players will bring to the group,” Koke said.
David de Gea, Marc Bartra, Thiago Alcantara and Alvaro Morata were also part of the victorious Spanish under-21 side in Israel three years ago, but have been made to wait their time for a chance in the senior team by conservative coach Vicente del Bosque.
Morata is expected to start when Spain get underway against the Czech Republic on Monday after Del Bosque left Fernando Torres — who scored in the last two Euro finals — and Chelsea’s Diego Costa out of his 23-man squad. “It is clear there are other people that could be here, that deserve it as much or even more than I do,” said Morata. “It is an honour to be a striker in the Spanish national team. It is something that brings with it a lot of pressure.”
Morata is a man in demand after shining for the past two years at Juventus since leaving European champions Real Madrid. Real could exercise a buy-back clause on the 23-year-old to bolster a potent strike force already containing Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, or even to then sell him on again to a host of interested cash-rich Premier League clubs. “I am a Juventus player until someone tells me otherwise,” Morata said. “This is my first Euros and the first one for many of my teammates. It is a dream to be in the Spanish national team and I am only thinking about the Euros.”
Morata scored twice as Spain thrashed South Korea 6-1 last week, but missed out through injury as Del Bosque’s men were humbled 1-0 at home by Georgia, ranked 137 in the world, on Tuesday. However, Koke insisted that setback hasn’t affected confidence ahead of their meeting with the Czechs in a tough group also including Turkey and Croatia. “The defeat was an accident and it is better that it came in a friendly. There is a great atmosphere in the group, we are all training well and desperate for the first game to come and do well.”