By Alberto Pinero
Former Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Ignacio Zoco has said that he believes Vicente del Bosque would rather lose a match than agree to a draw.
Spain's 4-0 win over the Republic of Ireland on Thursday means that they require just a point to qualify for the quarter-finals. A win will ensure top spot, whilst a high scoring draw (2-2 or 3-3) will ensure both they and Croatia qualify, irrespective of Italy's result, leading to some doubt within the Italian media.
Zoco, who featured in over 400 official matches for Los Blancos, as well as guiding Spain to their first European title in 1964, revealed in an exclusive interview with Goal.com that he believes Del Bosque will go whole-heartedly for the victory.
"Del Bosque would rather lose a game in advance than draw against Croatia, because we would be better to qualify as group winners, but whatever occurs, you have to produce, not because of any rigging," the 72-year-old told Goal.com's Alberto Pinero.
"I have not experienced [pre-arranging a result] in football in my fifteen years as a professional. Let's be serious. Spain can, and must, beat Croatia."
"Del Bosque is not a man of compromise, not that. [He] would rather lose before agreeing in advance to an outcome. Besides that, if Italy is left out, then you will have to play another equally strong opponent. [To win] the Euro, [you] will have to beat every opponent.
Zoco also gave his thoughts on the national team, stating that he is happy with what his friend is achieving with the national team.
"Playing with or without a number nine? To me, what the coach decides, is fine with me. The first game, Cesc [Fabregas] did very well and scored the equalising goal. On Thursday, [Fernando] Torres scored two and played a very good game. The most important thing is that the coach has a lot to choose from.
"Del Bosque is not affected by criticism. He is a man who knows what he wants, and that is that. The team responds, the players are with him."
The holders conclude their Group C campaign against Croatia on Monday. Kick-off in Gdansk is at 20:45CET.