Yamal makes history as Spain sink France to reach Euro 2024 final

DONAUESCHINGEN: Spain defender Marc Cucurella believes a unified approach is the key to stopping France striker Kylian Mbappe in the Euro 2024 semi-finals.

Three-time record winners Spain face France in Munich on Tuesday after edging out hosts Germany in extra time.

Real Madrid’s explosive new signing Mbappe struggled at the Euros after breaking his nose in France’s opener, scoring once from the penalty spot but remaining Les Bleus’ main attacking threat.

“I think football is a collective sport and it’s true that if it was one-on-one it would be tricky, but in the end it’s up to us,” Cucurella said at his press conference on Sunday.

“Besides handling the ball well, we’re a very hard-working team, we give everything for each other, and I think that’s the key.

“We have to be united, we have to know what to do at every moment and above all we have to minimize their counter-attacks, which are perhaps their strongest weapons.”

Cucurella has been one of the most impressive players for the Spanish side this summer, surprising some after a controversial season with Chelsea.

The left-back has made just one appearance for his country this year, but his improved performances at Stamford Bridge in the final months of the season, along with an injury to Valencia defender Jose Gaya, have helped him secure a starting spot.

Since defender Dani Carvajal was suspended for the 2-1 win over Germany following a red card against France in extra time, the 25-year-old could be deployed at right-back, where he occasionally operated for Chelsea.

“I try my best to contribute my grain of sand,” Cucurella said.

“I feel more comfortable on the left, but at the end of the day I have to try to do my best and help the team.

“The important thing is to win and it doesn’t matter who plays if we are in the final on Sunday.”

The defender was involved in a controversial moment against Germany when the ball hit his hand in the area, but the hosts were not awarded a penalty.

“If the refs said it’s not a penalty, I’ll respect that,” Cucurella said.

“Eventually these things happen, decisions… (Germany’s Toni) Kroos could have been booked earlier and then sent off.

“Football is a game of mistakes and precisions; In the end, we were more accurate than them, scored one more and advanced.”

Kroos brought down Barcelona’s Pedri early on and the midfielder was substituted and will miss the rest of the tournament with a sprained knee ligament.

After his retirement from football, the former star of Real Madrid wished Pedri a speedy recovery to the German fans in an open letter, and the Spaniard responded to this on Sunday.

“I came to Germany for the 2024 European Championship and I will stay until the end, because do not doubt, the dream continues,” wrote Pedri on the X social media platform.

“Thank you Toni Kroos for the message, this is football and these things happen. Your career and achievements will always remain.”

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