Kolkata: The month-long World Cup will reach it’s peak of drama and excitement at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday. The World Cup held for the first time in India has been a highly successful tournament but all past wins, goals and records won’t matter when England take on Spain in the summit clash of the World Cup and both the coaches astutely declined to consider themselves favourites for the final. But Spanish coach José Francisco Molina, who guided Atletico de Kolkata to title glory in the last season considers Spain as the hot favourites ahead of the mega final clash in Kolkata.
“Spain are surely the favourites. History witnessed that five months ago Spain beat England and Saturday will be the repeat of the match, at the Salt-Lake stadium,” said Molina.
Interestingly, Spain U-17 coach Santiago Denia and Molina have known each other since playing days. Both played with Albacete Balompié before moving to Atletico Madrid, where they won the double (League title and Copa del Rey) in their opening season with the club. They have continued to be friends since then and Denia even consulted Molina about the atmosphere, the condition of fields and the crowd support before coming to India.
“We regularly talk to each other and even during the tournament he consulted with me through What’s app. Not only the World Cup, we also discuss about our playing days at Atletico Madrid,” said the former ATK coach calling Denia the X factor in the Spanish team.
Abel Ruiz has been the Main man for La Roja and with six goals to his name has led his team with example. Molina however pointed out winger Ferran Torres to be the trump card for the 2007 runners-up as they aim for their first title.
Although friend Molina called Spain the favourites but coach Denia refused to consider the same. “I believe England have improved in every aspect of the game. It is clear that they are defensively much better while offensively their record — 18 goals from six matches — speak for themselves,” said Denia aware of England’s attacking prowess.
England coach Steve Cooper similarly declined the favourites tag and instead considered Spain deserving opponents in the final. “They (Spain) are befitting World Cup finalists. It’s an amazing achievement for them. It’s a very good team throughout from back to front players. We know where their strength lies as well as the areas what we can exploit, because of that we are going to game confident,” said Cooper ahead of the game.
Players of both the sides are however confident of their performances. English captain Joel Latibeaudiere who missed a penalty in the U-17 Euro final has now become a hero back home and he confidently said, “The Euro final was a different experience for us and we have learnt and grown from that game. We are well prepared for Spain.”
Spain captain Abel Ruiz also refused to dwell on past Glory and focus on the present. “I am concentrating now only on the final game against England and not on anything else,” he said.