The reliable Rodri the rock behind Spain's stunning Euro 2024 win

The reliable Rodri the rock behind Spain's stunning Euro 2024 win

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Germany's hopes of winning Euro 2024 on home soil hinge on inflicting a very rare defeat on Spain's midfield maestro Rodri in Friday's blockbuster quarter-final. Since losing his last competitive game against Scotland in March 2023, Rodri has made 77 appearances for club and country and has suffered defeat just once, when Manchester United beat his Manchester City in May's FA Cup final. In that time the 28-year-old has won two Premier League titles, the Champions League, an FA Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup, as well as leading his country to Nations League glory.

“In his position, he is the best – he can do everything. His quality, he reads the game, his mentality, he is always ready,” said City boss Pep Guardiola, who has overseen a group of some of the best midfielders to have graced the game.

“He's great at a lot of things … presence, physicality, he's complete.”

Spain have had a stellar season at Euro 2024 so far – they are the only team to have won all four of their matches on their way to the quarter-finals.

Wonders Yamin Lamal and Nico Williams have given Luis de la Fuente's side a direct threat that even the great Spain team that won three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012 did not have.

Fabian Ruiz, Pedri and Dani Olmo have shown extra finesse in midfield and even the maligned Alvaro Morata has moved up to third place for most goals in European Championship history.

However, Rodri's all-round importance as the anchor of this Spanish team was proven in the last 16 against Georgia.

Spain began to suffer from failure to make the most of their dominance of the ball and chances, falling behind to an own goal by Robin Le Normand despite not facing a single shot on target.

After the half-hour mark, Rodri took possession of the ball, stopped and instructed his teammates to stay calm.

Moments later he scored the equaliser with a low shot into the far corner, which sealed a 4–1 win.

“Sometimes it takes 20 or 30 seconds to tell people ‘calm down,’ which is more productive than attacking them,” Rodri said of his reassuring message to the team.

'no fear'

Morata may remain in the captain's role, but Rodri has emerged as the leader of a new generation of Spain players eager to break free from the shadow of their all-conquering predecessors.

“We have Rodri, who is a perfect computer,” de la Fuente said.

“He handles everything, all the emotions, all the moments, in a compelling way; it's a huge help to everybody.”

Despite having been one of the world's leading players in his position for several seasons, this is his first major tournament as part of Spain's starting six.

He was used as a centre-back by Luis Enrique in the 2022 World Cup, replacing the ageing Sergio Busquets.

The Barcelona legend's international retirement ended Spain's last major tournament triumph in 2012.

Now Rodri's generation wants to write their own story to become national heroes.

“Germany will be strong at home, but they will also be worried about us,” the former Atletico Madrid player said ahead of the match in Stuttgart.

“We have come to win and we are not afraid. Our mentality is to play with full strength against Germany on Friday.”

If Spain get their way, another great midfielder will be playing his last match.

Toni Kroos will retire after the tournament and the player, who spent the last decade of his club career with Real Madrid in Spain, showed respect to his opponent in the quarter-finals.

“I think he is a player who is full of enthusiasm, who doesn't make mistakes even under pressure, which always gives a lot to the team,” Kroos said.

“Also, in the last year or two he has scored goals, important goals as well.”

Rodri's goal helped City win their first Champions League title in the 2023 final.

Now their goal is to achieve success in major tournaments and at the same time break the hearts of the Germans.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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