Real Madrid midfielder and former Arsenal loanee Dani Ceballos is delighted to be working with Spain’s Olympic head coach Luis de la Fuente in Tokyo, having previously worked with him in the U19.
Spain is one of the favorites for the gold medal in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, as De la Fuente was able to field six players who reached the semi-finals with the senior team at Euro 2020.
The names of their star-studded lineup would be enough to scare any Olympic opponent since they included Pedri, Unai Simon, Dani Olmo, Mikel Oyarzabal, Eric Garcia and Pau Torres.
While the players paint an attractive picture on the pitch of Spain could win their second and first gold since 1992, Ceballos explained how his relationship with De la Fuente could help him thrive.
“I had great coaches, but with Luis [de la Fuente] we have a different relationship. We have networked very well since the first tournament (U19 European Championship 2015), ”said the former Arsenal midfielder at the press conference on Tuesday.
“From then on we built a great relationship. He gave me confidence and I was lucky enough to be able to give it back to him in the field.
De la Fuentes men begin their campaign against Egypt on Thursday before facing Argentina and Australia and Ceballos, who played 49 times during his two-year loan at Arsenal, is well aware of the different challenges the games pose.
“It’s a completely different competition than what we footballers are used to. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, ”he said.
“It is really difficult to qualify for this because there are a lot of requirements that are really difficult to meet. But this team did a lot of things to deserve it and now is the time to enjoy it.
Barcelona youngster Pedri did not misplace a pass in the semifinals of the Euro 2020 against Italy in regular time and created 11 chances at the tournament, one more than his squad colleague Olmo (10) and one less than first-placed Jordi Alba (12).
Both will be team-mates of Ceballos, and the midfielder praised all of his colleagues as they prepared to recreate the 1992 exploits that sealed the Barcelona home Olympic success.
“We have a really great team. On paper I think we can be favorites, but the reality is that there are a lot of fantastic national teams. It will be different on the field, ”he said
“Playing at these Olympics was a special dream and I read what happened there [the 1992] Competition. Especially in the final that there was extra time and Spain beat Poland with a goal from Kiko Narvaez.
“Hopefully we can repeat what you did in your time.”
Like Ceballos, De la Fuente spoke with pride of leading his nation in the Games, while also discussing the possibility of following in the footsteps of those who left Barcelona in 1992.
“It’s a pride to be here. It’s a different feeling than other tournaments because the Olympic Games are unique. It is a very special experience and we want to enjoy it as a competition and live the Olympic environment, ”said the head coach.
“We feel the same as them, a great desire to start competing, a great belief that we have a great team that is fighting for everything. And the feeling of being able to fight for the maximum. I am sure we feel what you felt.
“We will try to meet the standards expected of us and I am sure that we will reach that level and meet the expectations that we create.”