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Scotland game important but not ‘revenge’ says Spain coach

Spain coach Luis de La Fuente said his team were not out for “revenge” against Scotland on Thursday but victory would “almost” book La Roja’s place at Euro 2024.

Scotland beat Spain 2-0 in March at Hampden Park in a qualifier for the tournament in Germany next summer, an early set-back for De la Fuente in his second game in charge.

Steve Clarke’s side have won all five of their qualifying games and lead Group A, six points above Spain, second, who have played a game less.

“I don’t see it as revenge, I see it as a game, we’ll fight to win and it’s a responsibility because we represent a country,” De la Fuente told a news conference Wednesday.

“It’s not revenge, it’s another football game — a very important one, but a game.”

De la Fuente said his Spain team was much stronger than the side which was beaten in Glasgow seven months ago.

“The team gives me confidence, security, they are responsible, professional, add the talent the players have and I am very calm,” said the coach.

“Of course we drew conclusions (after the defeat), the important one is that now we’re better than we were then, a better team than we were.

“Now we have to play football and show that, we’ll try to win tomorrow, and the next game, and the next game.”

De la Fuente said he had faith in wingers Bryan Zaragoza and Ansu Fati, who were late call ups to replace the injured Yeremy Pino, while Barca forward Lamine Yamal also left the camp with a muscular issue.

Spain visit Norway on Sunday in another qualifier, knowing two victories would earn passage to Euro 2024.

“Since (the last matches), we’ve been conscious of the importance of these two games, and tomorrow’s game, which is decisive to almost open the door to qualification for us,” added De la Fuente.

“The mere idea of being able to seal qualification in these two games shows their importance.”

‘A bit rubbish’

Spain and Manchester City midfielder Rodri was critical of Scotland’s tactics in the previous match, labelling their game “a bit rubbish”.

However while some Scotland supporters have taken the comment to heart and travelled to Seville for the match wearing printed shirts featuring Rodri’s words, both Clarke and midfielder John McGinn said it was water under the bridge.

“It doesn’t matter any more, I can’t even count how many trophies he’s won since, he’s a world class player we all respect,” said McGinn.

“I can’t remember what he said,” added Clarke. “It’s a totally different game.”

The coach agreed Spain had improved since their first meeting.

“It’s a big challenge for us against a really good team, they won the Nations League,” added Clarke.

“When we played them in March they were a bit in the middle of a transition between coaches after a disappointing World Cup.

“We’ll have to be very, very good to get a positive result tomorrow.”

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