‘Frightening’ Spain have 100% record, 25 players firing – and Lamine Yamal

Luis de la Fuente is excited by his squad’s variety and says his 16-year-old forward was ‘touched by God’s wand’

Luis de la Fuente is losing sleep and it’s only getting worse, yet it isn’t panic, it is preparation. Spain have known for five days where and when they are going to play their last-16 tie – Cologne on Saturday night – but not who they are going to play against, only that it will be someone who finished third in Group A, D, E or F. By the time they find out, a week will have passed since they secured their passage. When they reached the dressing room in Düsseldorf after their final group game, 11 teams could still be their next opponents; the reward for excellence is uncertainty.

“If we’ve only slept two, three hours a night so far, we’re going to have to go a few with almost no sleep at all because we’ll have to study more opponents and be ready for anything until we know for sure,” Spain’s coach said. “It will be Wednesday night before we do but there’s no other choice. In any case, we’ll be prepared, mentally ready to try to go through.”

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