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Reliable Rodri The Rock Behind Spain’s Sparkling Euro 2024

Germany’s hopes of winning Euro 2024 on home soil rest with inflicting a very rare defeat on Spain’s midfield maestro Rodri in Friday’s blockbuster quarter-final. Since La Roja last lost a competitive game to Scotland in March 2023, Rodri has played 77 matches for club and country and tasted 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, one FA Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup, as well as guiding his country to Nations League glory.

“In his position, he is the best – he can do everything. The quality, he reads the game, his mentality, he is always ready,” said City boss Pep Guardiola, who has overseen a collection of some of the best midfielders ever to grace the sport.

“He is so good at many things…The presence, the physicality, he is complete.”

Spain have dazzled so far at Euro 2024 – the only side to have won all four of their matches en route to the quarter-finals.

Wonder kid wingers Yamine 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 lacked.

Fabian Ruiz, Pedri and Dani Olmo provide extra guile from midfield and even the much-maligned Alvaro Morata has moved into a share of third place for the most goals in European Championship history.

However, Rodri’s all-round importance as the anchor to this Spanish side was evidenced in the last 16 against Georgia.

Trailing to Robin Le Normand’s own goal despite not having faced a shot on target, Spain were beginning to be flustered by not taking advantage of their dominance of the ball and chances.

Just after the half hour mark, Rodri took possession, paused and issued an instruction of calm to his teammates.

Moments later he arrowed a low shot into the far corner for the equaliser that served as the launch pad for a 4-1 win.

“Sometimes 20 or 30 seconds of saying to people ‘calm down’ is more productive than going on the attack,” Rodri said of his message of reassurance to the team.

‘Not afraid’

Morata may wear the captain’s armband, but Rodri has developed into the leader of Spain’s new generation, keen to break free from the shadow of their all-conquering predecessors.

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

“He administers everything, all the emotions, all the moments in a magisterial way; that’s a great help for everyone.”

Despite being one of the world’s leading lights in his position for a number of seasons, this is his first major tournament as Spain’s starting six.

At the 2022 World Cup he was used as a centre-back by Luis Enrique to accomodate an ageing Sergio Busquets.

The Barcelona legend’s international retirement cut the final chord to Spain’s last major tournament win in 2012.

Now Rodri’s generation want to write their own story to become national heroes.

“Germany will be strong at home, but they will be worried about us too,” said the former Atletico Madrid man of the clash in Stuttgart.

“We came to win and we are not afraid. Our mentality is to go on Friday with everything we have against Germany.”

Should Spain get their way, another midfield great will play his final match.

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

“I think he is someone who exudes enthusiasm, who is not prone to making mistakes, even under pressure, which always gives a lot to the team,” said Kroos.

“On top of that, in the last one or two years, he has also scored goals, important goals.”

Rodri’s strike won City their first ever Champions League in the 2023 final.

Now he is aiming to make his major tournament breakthrough and break German hearts along the way.

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

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