The defending champions and World Cup holders have progressed through to the knock-out stages after an opening match draw with group rivals Italy, who they topped to win the group, by scoring more and conceding fewer goals.
Not only that, they have had more possession of the football than any other team in the tournament – or any other European Championships tournament for that matter – whilst racking up the greatest number of shots. Yet they still have their critics, both home and abroad, which Arbeloa states, is “a bit mad – surreal”.
“I’ve played in England, I know what kind of games they like: open, loads of chances. Maybe when they see our type of game, a game defined by control, they find that boring. That’s normal. I can understand that,” Arbeloa says. “But all that speaks volumes about the demands made on Spain. People don’t seem to realise that in a competition like this the difficulty is huge. You can’t win every game 3-0, you can’t be brilliant every time. The opposition play too but it is as if they don’t exist.
“Those debates reach us,” continued the fullback, “But we try to isolate ourselves a bit from all the noise. Besides, the people that put the most pressure on us are us.”
Arbeloa also admitted he was fully expecting to face his former Liverpool colleagues in the quarter-final: “I was watching England-Ukraine, not France, because I thought we’d play England. I was surprised France didn’t beat Sweden because they weren’t playing for anything.
“It is a pity,” he added, “I quite fancied England. Because of what it means for me…But it’s still a big game. It’s going to be very hard.”
There’s no doubt that Spain v France are huge international heavyweights, and both nations have had a massive influence on Liverpool FC in modern times – Houllier and Benitez anyone?
But who would you like to see progress? Do you side with Arbeloa, or are you a critic of the Spanish ‘tiki-taka’?
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