Juan Mata has stressed the importance of Spain affording Tahiti the appropriate level of respect ahead of their Confederations Cup clash in Rio de Janeiro this evening.
Mata was a late substitute as Vicente del Bosque’s side opened their campaign with an impressive 2-1 win over Uruguay on Sunday, and while Tahiti were beaten 6-1 by Nigeria in their first game, the Blues’ playmaker is taking nothing for granted.
‘All of our success stems from the respect we continue to show for our opponents – and Tahiti deserve our respect,’ explained Mata.
‘Even with their limitations, they showed against Nigeria that they are a side that wants to play and has pace.
‘Spain go into it as the favourites but you have to win matches on the pitch and not beforehand.’
Mata’s Chelsea team-mate David Luiz, meanwhile, broke his nose in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Mexico last night according to reports in his homeland.
The 26-year-old had blood pouring from his nose following an accidental clash with team-mate Thiago Silva shortly before half-time, and was forced to leave the pitch on two separate occasions for treatment.
He emerged after the break, however, and turned in an accomplished display at the back as the hosts made it two wins from two courtesy of goals from Neymar and Jo.
David Luiz explained the injury after the game, saying: ‘Yes, my nose is broken, but that’s part of the game.
‘Now I’ll have to wait until the end of the competition and undergo surgery to fix it.’
He went on to pay tribute to a passionate home support in Fortaleza.
‘It was thrilling, it gave me the chills,’ he said. ‘It’s one of the best sensations I’ve had in my life, to see the whole stadium singing with passion.
‘We’ll always make sure to give our best to these people, but it was an even bigger incentive to get on the pitch.’
Brazil play their final group game against Italy on Saturday.
John Mikel Obi and Kenneth Omeruo’s Nigeria are also in action tonight, when they take on Uruguay in Salvador.