Koke: 'Spain prepared for EURO champion Portugal'

Spain will start its World Cup campaign against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal.

Koke will be a crucial fixture in Spain's starting XI   -  AFP

Spain is 'fully focused' in the challenge of facing Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in its World Cup opener according to midfielder Koke.

"We will be ready and we are prepared for everything. We study our opponents closely. They are the current European champions," the Atletico Madrid player said in Krasnodar on Wednesday.

From the all-action role on display under club coach Diego Simeone, Koke has adapted to the traditional Spanish approach of fluid, passing football for the national team. The 26-year-old has become a regular starter for manager Julen Lopetegui over the course of the qualifiers.

"I have adapted very well here. Diego Costa (Atletico team-mate) has also adapted very well to the two styles," Koke said of the switch between philosophies.

Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal, who suffered an injury during the Champions League final, has rejoined the group on Wednesday according to Koke.

Celta Vigo's attacking midfielder Iago Aspas will be among the new wave of Spanish players making their World Cup debut. Aspas' direct football offers Lopetegui a varied dimension in a squad which is heavy on short-passing midfielders.

"I think being versatile bodes well for many players. It gives you many more options to enjoy playing. This works well for me to deliver my style," said Aspas, who scored 26 goals in the recently concluded La Liga season.

Iago Aspas scored 22 goals for Celta Vigo in La Liga   -  AFP

 

"Being here is a dream come true for me and I will make the most of the time I have to add to the team in any way I can. If I play 15 minutes, I have to do my best for the following game."

The former Liverpool player's late strike clinched a 1-0 win in the final friendly against Tunisia on Sunday. Spain's only other warm-up result was a 1-1 draw against Switzerland.

"We've had better matches, but the rival plays and they were very brave, they wanted the ball. We had to solve the game in the end. Rivals also play, but you've just got to check the other friendlies," Aspas said of the low-scoring matches.