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Rodri aiming to bring back Spain’s ‘winning culture’

Spain midfielder Rodrigo (centre) hits at goal against Italy. Photo: John Thys/AFP

Spain midfielder Rodri Hernandez hopes to restore his team’s “winning culture” by beating Croatia on Sunday and winning the Nations League.

Manchester City’s goalscoring hero in their Champions League final triumph over Inter Milan last weekend noted only two players in Spain’s squad had won trophies with the national team — Jordi Alba and Jesus Navas.

Sevilla wing-back Navas lifted the 2010 World Cup with La Roja, while Alba was part of the side which won Spain’s last trophy at Euro 2012, over a decade ago.

“It will be very important to win again, after all this time, bringing Spain back to the highest point,” Rodri told a news conference Saturday, ahead of the final in Rotterdam.

“We only have two players who know what it’s like to win. It’s not just important to win but to create a winning culture, we have to understand that we have a unique opportunity.

“We had the chance to win against France in the (2021) final but we couldn’t do it. This will allow us to recover that winning culture.”

Spain also reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals but were beaten by Italy on penalties.

Rodri has become a key figure for coach Luis de la Fuente in midfield and the Man City player believes he is at a career level high.

“I think I am, in terms of maturity, winning titles, it’s a moment I want to extend in the national team,” continued Rodri.

“We have to make it clear how important winning a title is, it would crown a very special season for me.”

Rodri will come face-to-face with Croatian midfield maestro Luka Modric, who shone in his team’s semi-final victory over hosts the Netherlands.

Spain coach De la Fuente highlighted the pair’s quality.

“They seem two extraordinary players to me,” the coach told reporters.

“I’ve already said, for me Rodri is the best defensive midfielder in the world. And Modric is a world class talent.”

The coach said the Real Madrid midfielder was a worry for his team, but so were Croatia as a whole.

“He puts us on alert, but not just Modric — Croatia have players of a very high level, that’s why they are where they are,” said De la Fuente. 

“We have to be more alert around Modric, paying attention to him.”

De la Fuente confirmed forward Dani Olmo was fit to feature in the final at De Kuip after missing the 2-1 win over Italy on Thursday in Enschede.

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