Gerard Pique doesn’t rate Spain as favourites for Euro 2016 but argues they weren’t favourites for Euro 2008 or World Cup 2010 either.
Pique appeared on Onda Cero’s Al Primer Toque on the eve of the tournament in France, and was asked about La Roja’s prospects, with particular reference to Tuesday’s shock defeat against Georgia.
“Winning a third Euros would be something unique but we’re not favourites. [The defeat] demonstrated that, it was an accident but it also shows there are teams like France and Germany who can be better. But we weren’t favourites in Euro 2008 or World Cup 2010 and we have a very good team,” the Barcelona defender noted.
“I think we’re a high level: the generation coming now is very good, with a lot of very talented young people, and we hope to do a good job. Out of 100 matches you’ll lose one, and that was [against Georgia]. Accept it, see where we made mistakes, and move forward.
“I understand that after a defeat such as that there’s going to be discussion and criticism. We start [the Euros] on Monday and a victory against the Czech Republic is going to change everything and people are going to be optimistic.”
Spain have of course claimed the last two European Championships but were sent home early from the World Cup in 2014, and Pique acknowledged that every successful team reaches the end of their cycle.
“Sport has shown a thousand times that champions are never eternal, and in the end someone else comes and you win and win again, and to win again is the most difficult thing. Keep it up and continue to win. In Spain we have become accustomed to winning in all sports and when we stop there is a ‘what’s happening here?’” he noted.
“But it’s the most normal thing in the world. In sport you win but you also lose, which people don’t understand. Rafa [Nadal] doesn’t win in tennis, we win in basketball, and now we’re back to win the Euros…there was a time we won everything and it seemed the norm, and 20 years ago we won absolutely nothing. Everything should be on a scale, to see we have won a lot and where Spanish sport is.”