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Friday, June 28, 2013
Del Bosque unfazed by hostility

Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque says he is not worried about a hostile reception for his team when they face Brazil in Sunday's Confederations Cup final at the Maracana.

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Spain's players have been regularly whistled and even booed during the tournament, and suffered similar treatment during Thursday's nail-biting semi-final win over Italy, which finished scoreless after extra-time before Jesus Navas netted the winning penalty as La Roja won the shoot-out 7-6.

Spanish TV commentators talked throughout Thursday's game about whistles directed at their side's players, and jeers were audible as Xavi Hernandez stepped up to take Spain's first penalty in the shoot-out.

But the veteran coach, who watched the shoot-out sat alone on the bench before turning calmly and walking quietly back to the dressing-rooms while the players joyously celebrated on the pitch, played down the issue to reporters afterwards.

"We will try and represent well the country [Spain] and to be a headache for them," Del Bosque said. "It is normal. Maybe they whistled us because there is a big Italian community here [in Fortaleza]."

Del Bosque said that even the World Cup winners in the Spain squad had been really excited throughout the tournament about the chance to take on Brazil in their Maracana stadium, in a final for which Cesc Fabregas and Roberto Soldado should be ready to start.

"While we had a kid's dream of playing against Brazil in the Maracana," he said. "This is stupendous for us. They are five times world champions, and us only once, but Sunday in the Maracana a new era begins. We are both starting from zero."

Juan Mata, a second-half substitute who netted a penalty in the shoot-out, said he had enjoyed playing his part in the game, even though it had been tough to keep going through the 120 minutes.

"It was one of the toughest and most emotional games of my life," Mata told AS. "I enjoyed it a lot despite the moments of so much tension. We are happy and satisfied, now we must try and win this big final on Sunday. You noticed the tiredness in extra-time, and we were physically diminished. All this you could see, we dropped a level and had to draw out strength from somewhere we did not have it."

The hot and humid conditions inside Fortaleza's Estadio Castelao had been difficult to deal with, said the Chelsea midfielder, but the idea of playing Brazil in their historic home would ensure Spain recovered in time.

"We have played some friendlies where there has also been so much heat," Mata said. "It was difficult to sprint. I do not think we will pay for it playing against Brazil. The motivation and excitement will overcome the physical effort."

Winning penalty taker Jesus Navas told El Primer Toque that he had wanted to take the seventh kick, as that had always been his lucky number.

"Sergio [Busquets] was number six and seven is a number that I Iike, so I wanted to take the seventh," Navas said. "That is my [Sevilla shirt] number and it has always brought me luck."

Asked what he was thinking as he walked up to face Buffon, knowing he could put Spain through to the final by scoring, the new Manchester City signing said he quickly made up his mind where he was going to shoot.

"With a penalty you cannot doubt, you must go up with a clear idea of where you are going to hit it," Navas said. "The truth is that each penalty was taken very well. I knew clearly where I was going to hit it, as I was walking up to the spot."

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