De la Fuente: Yamal must adapt to ´reality´ of heavy treatment at Euro 2024

Lamine Yamal must appreciate the “reality” of rough treatment by opponents at Euro 2024, so says Spain head coach Luis de la Fuente, ahead of Tuesday’s last-four meeting with France.

The 16-year-old has impressed for La Roja in Germany, assisting three goals as Spain have won all five of their matches at the tournament.

No Spanish player has ever registered more assists at a single European Championship tournament, while Yamal has created 14 chances – the most at a major competition for Spain since Xavi’s 25 at Euro 2012.

Yet Spain have been somewhat frustrated by tactics from the opposition to stop Yamal and wing partner Nico Williams, with repeated calls for more protection of their players.

Yamal has only won four free-kicks at this tournament, however, and De la Fuente acknowledged his teenage star must learn to adapt.

“It’s part of football, it’s part of the game,” De la Fuente said at Monday’s pre-match press conference. “There are ways to gain an edge through playing or with intimidatory tactics.

“Each one uses their tools, always within a disciplinary regime imposed by the referee.

“You have to explain to a 16-year-old kid that he needs to see that reality. Lamine has to continue being him and learn that this is how it is.

“You will gain experience little by little. And he does it very quickly.”

Though De la Fuente suggested Yamal must learn from his early playing days, Spain team-mate Rodri went the other way, demanding greater protection for his youthful colleague.

“As football players, we always want to be protected,” Rodri said. “This is the job of the referee.

“I mean, he puts the standard, so what is a yellow card or red card is his job. It’s not our job. And we play with the rules or with the level he put, this is the reality.”

France’s Adrien Rabiot has already referenced Yamal’s danger, with the Les Bleus midfielder keen on putting “pressure” on the Barcelona forward.

Rodri expects a tough test, nevertheless, as Spain attempt to tee up a final with either the Netherlands or England, who meet on Wednesday in Dortmund.

“Tomorrow is going to be a very, very physical battle because they are a very physical team,” the Manchester City star added.

“So we will have to go in the same way, try to be strong, use the body, because we know the power they have.”

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