Koke: Spain need to bring back 'The Red Fury'

With worries over the reigning champions’ ruthlessness heading into the knockout stages of the tournament, the midfielder has urged the team to be more aggressive

Koke has conceded that Spain may need to bring "The Red Fury" back into their style of play if they are to retain their European Championship title.

Though Spain became renowned for their attractive passing game - dubbed "tiki taka" - as they won three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012, they failed to reach the knockout stages at the 2014 World Cup and a 2-1 defeat to Croatia saw them finish second in Group D at Euro 2016.

Prior to that period of success, Spain had been nicknamed "The Red Fury" to signal their fiery on-field tone, and midfielder Koke believes a middle ground between the two styles would boost their hopes of defending their European title.

"Tiki-taka has done great things for us and brought us a lot of success," he told AS.

"We can mix touches of this 'red fury' with 'tiki-taka', which would be great for Spain."

But, ahead of their last-16 clash with Italy, the Atletico Madrid star denied that the national team lack the ruthlessness of his club side.

"We are competitive and there are people who want to win," Koke said.

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"Although at times it looks like Spain play to have possession of the ball and not to attack, that's not the way it is.

"We have possession to attack and tire out our rivals. In the first two games and the third we played some great stuff.

"Spain are showing that they have that competitive edge."