MOSCOW (Reuters) - Fernando Hierro doesn’t want to know about Spain’s horrible history of playing the hosts of major tournaments as his side prepare to face Russia in the World Cup last 16 in Moscow on Sunday.
“Records are there to be broken,” the coach told a reporter on Saturday who told him that Spain have never beaten a host at the World Cup or European Championship.
“We have everything very clearly in mind,” Hierro said, insisting he was ready for anything Russia could throw at him.
“Why are we looking in the rear view mirror? Why are we looking at the past? It’s all about tomorrow, 5 p.m. Everything else is completely irrelevant.”
Most painfully in recent memory, Spain lost to South Korea on penalties in the 2002 World Cup. They were also beaten by Portugal in Euro 2004 and by England — on penalties — at Euro 96.
Hierro waved away questions about his side’s stuttering performances after he was promoted at the last minute to replace Julen Lopetegui, fired on the eve of the tournament after accepting a job at Real Madrid. Spain won their group after beating Iran 1-0 and drawing with Morocco and Portugal.
“Football is made of mistakes and the team that makes fewer mistakes probably wins,” he said. “We need to avoid mistakes.”
Midfielder David Silva also defended Spain’s record in Russia.
“All teams are having a hard time,” he said. “Sometimes teams park the bus in front of goal. It can be hard to shine because of that kind of behavior.”
Against Russia, with both sides needing to score, Silva believes that Spain will get chances.
“If we play very fast up front we’ll have a lot of options and we’ll get space and we’ll hurt them,” he said.
Hierro dismissed fears of playing in front of a vocal home crowd.
“My lads are used too playing in big stadiums, where there’s a lot of pressure, where you’re away from home,” he said. “Everything that will be achieved will be on the pitch.”
Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; editing by Ed Osmond