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Pedri on the prowl

Updated on: 15 June,2024 07:16 AM IST  |  Berlin

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente wants midfielder Gonzalez to play aggressively and take advantage of the final ball in the circle during opener against Croatia

Pedri on the prowl

Spain’s Pedri Gonzalez during a training session in Donaueschingen, Germany, recently. Pic/Getty Images

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Pedri on the prowl

Spain’s Euro hopes have been bolstered by Pedri Gonzalez’s return to form and the Barcelona playmaker could prove crucial in their stern opening battle against Luka Modric’s dangerous Croatia. 

The Real Madrid midfielder, 38, is still the standard-bearer for his country and his midfield duel with Pedri lends a Clasico feel to the heavyweight clash in Berlin on Saturday. 

Luis de la FuenteLuis de la Fuente

Spain, Croatia, Italy and Albania comprise Group B, the tournament’s toughest quartet, but a resurgent Pedri could give La Roja the edge they crave. Pedri was vital as Spain reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals but repeated hamstring injuries have set his career back in the years since. 

In the final weeks of the season and in Spain’s warm-up friendlies Pedri has shown strong signs of returning to his best. The midfielder struck twice last week in an advanced role as Spain thrashed Northern Ireland 5-1 in their final warm-up friendly. It opened debate in Spain over Pedri’s best position, as he sometimes operates deeper in midfield, but coach Luis de la Fuente says he needs the Canary Islander to make the difference in the final third. 

“We want him to play closer to the area, between the lines, taking advantage of the final ball. I think we can get a great deal from him,” said De la Fuente, grateful for Pedri’s grit in his fitness battle. “I thank Pedri, he’s an example of overcoming, effort, a school of values [in himself], he’s important for everyone.” 

The coach has been a strong supporter of Pedri and the midfielder revealed with every injury setback, De la Fuente would call to offer support.  “Pedri had to find himself, we don’t know what his best version is because he’s so good, he is infinite,” added De la Fuente.

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