Across the first two matchdays of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Spain were arguably the most impressive team. They registered a 7-0 win over Costa Rica to open the tournament, but crumbled to a 1-1 draw against Germany in the second match despite being the dominant side.
The centre-back partnership of Rodri and Aymeric Laporte has been largely impregnable in the two matches. The former has taken Barcelona defender Eric Garcia’s place in central defence, who was the starting central defender under Luis Enrique in the past.
Ahead of their decider against Japan, Eric spoke to Mundo Deportivo about all things World Cup, and his playing time.
“Playing or not playing, the important thing is the team. We would all like to play, but the coach has to choose the eleven who he thinks will play as he prefers for that game. So those who don’t play have to be helping to give the extra push so that those who are on the field play as they are doing now.”
“Obviously I’m ready. It’s our job when you’re not playing. Train to the fullest and if the manager decides that we should have the opportunity, make the most of it,” he added.
Eric spoke in praise of his compatriot and former Man City teammate Rodri, who has essentially taken over his spot in the team. “He is very good. He has a very good ball output and a very good placement. I guess that’s what the coach was looking for. Both he and Ayme (Laporte) are giving a very high level.”
“I think that before we got here we would all have signed up to be in the situation we are in, so in this regard, I am very happy,” Eric said, speaking about being leaders in the ‘group of death’ and the tie against Germany.
He added, “In the end, we always want to win. It is a match in which after 1-0, we were controlling well, and we even had the second goal. Let them tie you in the end, well, f**k.”
Luis Enrique was one of the first managers to show faith in Eric, even when he was not playing for Manchester City.
“I have always said that he has given me incredible confidence and my obligation is to return it. Not only me anymore, it helps us all. He has a very clear idea of playing where I feel quite identified. It’s a pleasure to have him.”
The Barcelona man was also asked about possible opponents for Spain in the round of 16, to which he replied, “I really liked Morocco against Belgium. They are a very orderly rival, with a lot of individual talent, who can also play very well. Obviously, Belgium or Croatia also have a lot of individual class and Canada surprised me a lot too.”