Euro 2024: Spain’s Yamal hits back over ‘inexperienced’ tag

Lamine Yamal has said Spain will respond to Jens Lehmann on the pitch after the former goalkeeper labelled them “inexperienced” ahead of Friday’s Euro 2024 quarterfinal against Germany.

Spain, who are the only team to have won all four of their games at the tournament so far, take on hosts Germany in a mouthwatering tie in Stuttgart, with the winners then facing either Portugal or France in the semifinal.

Ex-Germany goalkeeper Lehmann acknowledged La Roja have had good results so far at the finals but questioned their average height, youthfulness and lack of experience.

“It’s his opinion, what’s he going to say? He’s German,” Barcelona winger Yamal, who will turn 17 the day before the final, said in an interview with La Sexta.

“It’s an attempt to destabilise us. We don’t listen to anyone, we will show what we are on the pitch.

“More than help Germany, it helps Spain, but the best thing is to show it on Friday. Let’s see if we are small and innocent.”

Lehmann’s comments calling Luis de la Fuente’s side “a team of kids” sparked outrage back in Spain, with the frontpage of the country’s biggest sports newspaper, Marca, leading with the remarks on Wednesday.

“Just another person who doesn’t take us seriously,” the headline read.

Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, who will retire from football after Euro 2024, also reacted to Lehmann, distancing the national team from what he said.

“[Lehmann’s] words don’t represent us — he always has a slightly different opinion,” Kroos said in a news conference.

“[Spain] have demonstrated that they have experience: Rodri, [Alvaro] Morata, Nacho [Fernández], [Dani] Carvajal … It’s not true what he says.

“We are expecting a top Spain side. They play good football, but so do we. It will be a nice game.”

Spain beat Georgia 4-1 in the round of 16 to advance to this stage having already beaten Croatia, Italy and Albania in the group stage.

Germany opened with back-to-back wins against Scotland and Hungary before being held by Switzerland. They then beat Denmark 2-0 to set up Friday’s meeting with Spain at the Stuttgart Arena.