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Spain's Rodri calls for more protection for players at UEFA Euro 2024

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MUNICH (AP) — Rodri has called for more protection for players after one of his Spain teammates was ruled out of the rest of the European Championship.

Pedri’s tournament was ended after the midfielder sustained a knee injury last Friday in a hefty challenge by Toni Kroos at the start of the quarterfinal against Germany, which La Roja went on to win 2-1.

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said Kroos should have been sent off in the final match of his illustrious career. He did not even receive a yellow card.

“As football players, we always want to be protected,” Rodri said on Monday. “This is the job of the referee.

“I mean, he puts the standard, so what is a yellow card or red card is his job, It’s not our job. And we play with the rules or with the level he put. This is the reality.”

Rodri, considered the best defensive midfielder in the world, is expecting another hard-fought encounter in Tuesday’s semifinal against France.

“Tomorrow is going to be a very, very physical battle because they are a very physical team. So we will have to go in the same way, try to be strong, use the body, because we know the power they have,” he said.

Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann had said before the quarterfinal that his players would try to make life hard for Spain wonderkid Lamine Yamal. And tackles were flying in right from the start in Stuttgart on Friday.

A pragmatic De la Fuente said the 16-year-old Yamal has to get used to it.

“It’s part of football, it’s part of the game,” he said. “There are ways to gain an edge through playing or with intimidatory tactics. Each one uses their tools, always within a disciplinary regime imposed by the referee.

“You have to explain to a 16-year-old kid that he needs to see that reality. Lamine has to continue being him and learn that this is how it is. You will gain experience little by little. And he does it very quickly.”

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024