Juanfran admits overconfidence cost Spain their place at the top of Group D, leaving them in a position where they may have to overcome Italy, Germany and France if they are to reach the final of Euro 2016.
But the full-back insists lessons have been learnt and the champions of 2012 and 2008 will not make the same mistake again, not least because the conditions that led to them getting caught out by Croatia will not be recreated.
With three minutes left in Bordeaux it was 1-1, a result that would have meant that Spain progressed as group winners, when a shot from Aritz Aduriz was blocked and allowed Croatia to break from the edge of their area, leaving Ivan Perisic to score the winner. Defeat meant Spain shifted from one side of the draw to the other, radically altering their route to the final. The teams in their half of the draw have won 11 World Cups and nine European titles between them; the teams in the other half have not won a single international trophy.
Juanfran said Spain do not fear anyone and will not look beyond Italy, and he dismissed suggestions the team should be worried about the way they are playing.
“There was a small excess of confidence, but that is something that we have corrected,” Juanfran said. “We have gone over it, thought about it a lot, and we have drawn positive conclusions. I am completely sure that we will get it right against Italy.
“That excess of confidence that can happen in a game like that will not happen in the next round: it’s different when it is the last 16 and you don’t know that you’re already qualified, as [we did] in the last round, and the score suits you. We wouldn’t be so high up the pitch and we wouldn’t get caught on the break like we did against Croatia. We know that and we’re sure we can learn from it.”
“In most of our games we have been the better side, apart from the last 20 minutes or so against Croatia. Against the Czechs we were the better team, against Turkey we were the better team, and against Croatia we were too until after the penalty. We’re strong and we’re ready for this run of games. Italy will be worried about us too,” he added. “It will be even, competitive as always, and I’m convinced it will bring the best out of us.
“I think we have to forget the draw. If it had been Portugal [Spain’s opponents if they had won the group] we’d still have the same fear. The path to the final [after that] is a bit more complicated, but no one gives victories away for free. Any team in the last 16 will make life complicated for you; they will all give their lives to get to the quarters.
“Germany and France have to win their games first. No one is going to gift them their place in the next round. So maybe the path [to the final] will look different after this game. This game is like a final for us: if we lose, we go home. But so do they.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010