ANDRES INIESTA BELIEVES Spain are only accused of playing boring football because their opponents are too defensive, ahead of Wednesday’s Euro 2012 semi-final against Portugal.
Vicente del Bosque’s side are bidding to become the first team in history to claim three consecutive major international titles, having triumphed at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
Their ‘tika-taka’ passing style has earned endless plaudits during their four-year period of dominance, but La Roja have started to face criticism for the sterility of their possession-based game.
Spain endured few awkward moments in their 2-0 quarter-final win over France, with a brace of Xabi Alonso goals book-ending a match largely devoid of goal-mouth incident.
Lauded for breathing new life into the sport after their World Cup triumph, Spain now face accusations of trying to strangle the life out of the games they play in, but Iniesta says the criticism does not concern him.
“Football is great in this respect,” said the Barcelona midfielder.
“Not everyone likes the same things and not everyone agrees on everything. It’s the diversity of opinion that makes it so special.
“We have our own style, which has brought us success and given us two trophies. But all opinions are valid, and I respect them.
“The truth is that when you have a team that always attacks, and you attack against closed defences that leave no space, of course it’s not as attractive as an open match between two teams that want to win.
“But this is the style that has brought us success and it’s the style that we can identify with. Don’t forget, a few years back, this style changed the history of Spain forever, and I think that’s enough.”
Del Bosque echoed Iniesta’s remarks.
“Of course we don’t want to stagnate,” said the Spain coach.
“We want to go forward, and winning two trophies is proof of our qualities. We’ve got our own style. People might not like it, but it’s a style that brought us success. And people are always looking for things to complain about.”
Spain edged Portugal 1-0 in the round of 16 at the last World Cup but Portugal exacted emphatic revenge with a 4-0 victory in the sides’ last meeting in a friendly in Lisbon in November 2010.
Paulo Bento’s Portugal are expected to play on the counter-attack in Wednesday’s game at Donbass Arena, and Del Bosque boldly claimed that such an approach would actually suit Spain.
“Of course I prefer it when the opposition play in their own half of the pitch,” he said at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.
“It’s better for us if we can hold onto the ball and keep it in their half as well. Portugal have great options and I would like them to close their defence, because we know how to play against that.”
Del Bosque was inevitably asked about Cristiano Ronaldo, whose three goals in two games against the Netherlands and the Czech Republic have taken Portugal to within sight of a second appearance at a major final.
“Of course we have to take notice of Cristiano Ronaldo,” said Del Bosque.
“He’s an excellent player and it’s logical that there’s been so much talk about him. He plays in Spain as well, which is also a factor.
“We saw him at the last World Cup and we knew how to stop him. And that’s what we’ll try tomorrow (Wednesday).”