Spain manager Luis de la Fuente ahead of France clash – 'The mask limits you, Kylian Mbappe is at 80%'


Spain manager Luis de la Fuente has stated that his Spanish team will not face Kylian Mbappé at full tilt Tuesday, because of a broken nose. The Real Madrid striker has played with a mask in the knockout stages, and has yet to score from open play – de la Fuente believes it is affecting his game.

Talking with Chain Cope On Sunday night, de la Fuente was asked if he would come up with a specific plan to stop Mbappe on Tuesday night.

“I have never done it and I believe in specific positions that each player knows how to master, except in specific situations. But usually, I like all players to play in the position in which I think they do it more easily.”

The La Roja coach also explained that having had defender Robin Le Normand playing with a similar mask at one stage, he felt Mbappe's performances suffered as a result.

“People have to know that a mask like this is quite limiting. We experienced a similar situation with Le Normand, he was not breathing normally, he got very tired and also had some muscle problems. It limits you, but in any case case Mbappe at 80% is a lot of Mbappe, although it is true that his best version has not yet been seen and he has a huge potential”.

Of course, the number one plan to fight Mbappe would be Dani Carvajal, but the Real Madrid defender is suspended after being sent off late on against Germany. It leaves de la Fuente a decision to make in the right. Jesus Navas is obviously the replacement, while Nacho Fernandez could also play there. It was even suggested that Marc Cucurella could change sides.

De la Fuente was asked if he would be comfortable with Navas, 38, going up against Mbappe.

“It's not that I trust Jesus Navas, it's that Jesus Navas is the best. He has the legs to go on for a while, he's a fantastic player and I have total and absolute trust in him. I don't even know if he's going to play or not, but he is very prepared. And Mbappe is a player who has the ability to overwhelm like Dembele or Barcola and who is solved with help and cover from a teammate. That is the way I come to try to stop him those players when they have the ball. And when we have it, we will try to take advantage of their weaknesses, which can be that phase of defense.”

Going into the Euro 2024 semi-final, Spain have the opportunity to make a first major final since Euro 2012, when they last won a major competition. La Roja has the experience of winning the League of Nations last year under de la Fuente, but at the same time, France are very experienced, having been to the semi-finals in the Euro and the Cup World Cup in three of the last four tournaments.

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