Iniesta tells critics to 'relax'

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Football News

Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta has hit back at critics of Spain's style of play, telling them to 'relax'.

The Barca star believes Spain are now victims of their own success, as fans and pundits expect world-beating performances in every match. But the World Cup winner thinks such expectations are unrealistic, and has called for his country's critics to temper their expectations.

Speaking after Spain's 1-0 win over Croatia, Iniesta said: "All criticism deserves respect as long as it is constructive. Everybody feels they are a coach and that they have better ideas than the professionals. I would ask them to relax."

Spain qualified top of Group C, and will face France in the quarter-finals, but they failed to replicate their usual free-flowing passing style against Croatia. Their 1-0 win came courtesy of an 87th Jesus Navas goal, but the world champions were only one goal away from elimination for much of the match.

And Iniesta believes this precarious position inhibited Spain's typical passing fluidity. "There were moments of quality but there were moments of doubt due to the context of the game knowing that one goal from Croatia could eliminate us," said Iniesta. "Now we have this match out of the way we can recover before Saturday [against France] and I have total confidence.

Spain are on course for an unprecedented third consecutive major international trophy, and the Barca star has been one of his country's standout performers so far.

The tournament knock-out stage begins tomorrow with Czech Republic versus Portugal, while Spain face France in a rematch of their Euro 2000 encounter on Saturday evening. That year the French came out on top, winning 2-1, before they went on to win the competition on the 'golden goal' rule.

Spain face the French on Saturday, with the winner facing either England or Italy in the semi-finals.

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