Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Why is Morata causing chaos before Spain’s Euro semi-final?

Must read

  • Alvaro Morata is considering international retirement upon the end of Euro 2024
  • His shock comments came on the eve of Spain’s Euro semi-final against France 
  • LISTEN: Join us as we debate the BIGGEST talking points on It’s All Kicking Off! EUROS DAILY. Available wherever you get your podcasts 

For Alvaro Morata, adulation from supporters of his beloved Spain has always been hard to come by. His demons of years gone by have reared their head again as he prepares to lead La Roja out into battle in their Euro 2024 semi-final against France.

Morata is yet to taste defeat while wearing the armband for his country and is expected to lead the line on Tuesday in what is arguably the country’s biggest match in over a decade.

Hope in the national team has been restored this tournament as they have soared to the last four with Luis de la Fuente’s young team sparking life back into a Spanish side that had remained dormant for 12 years.

For fans, it has felt like a lifetime since the glory days in which they won three major tournaments on the bounce, the last of those being the European Championship in 2012. But those days feel like they are returning in Germany, and happiness with it.

So, when Morata took to the press on the eve of their crunch match with the French to reveal he may step away from international football after the Euros, due to not feeling respected, it raised some eyebrows back in his homeland, and beyond.

Alvaro Morata has said lack of ‘respect’ could cause him to retire from international football
Morata’s comments came on the eve of Spain’s Euro 2024 semi-final showdown with France after Mikel Merino (centre) netted a 119th-minute winner against hosts Germany on Friday

Morata’s wife Alice Campello, who he married in 2017, has supported him during the Euros

Speaking to Spanish media outlet, El Mundo, he stated: ‘It could be [my last tournament with Spain]. It’s a possibility that I don’t want to talk about too much, but it’s probable.’

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With such a big match on the horizon, many would expect a rallying cry from the team captain in an attempt to bring the nation together.

But the 31-year-old, who has netted 36 goals in 78 appearances for his country, has had a tumultuous relationship with football in Spain, and its fans, over the past several years. So maybe it should not come as a surprise.

Morata was whistled by his own supporters during Euro 2020, which of course put a strain on his connection to the fanbase.

To make matters worse, while wearing the armband against Brazil at the Bernabeu in March, there were notable jeers from the home crowd in his direction.

Hearing boos from your own supporters is bound to impact your desire to play for them, any footballer could tell you that.

And while his comments might be ill-timed, it’s clear that the striker, who has started four of Spain’s five matches at Euro 2024, has reached breaking point.

‘In Spain, it’s hard for me to be happy,’ Morata said. ‘Without doubt [I’m happier outside of Spain]. I’ve said it many times. Above all, because people respect me. In Spain, there’s no respect for anything or anyone.’

The Spain skipper was jeered by his own fans during a friendly against Brazil in March
It is looking likely that the striker will also leave Spanish side Atletico Madrid this summer

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Evidently, Morata’s life in his motherland is nearing an end, for now at least. The forward has spent eight years of his 14-year senior career in Madrid, but the likeliness of him moving away has grown.

Just last month, the Spain skipper stated it would be ‘easiest’ for him and his family to move to another country to escape abuse.

Morata currently plays for Atletico Madrid and lives in the Spanish capital with his wife Alice Campello, whom he married in 2017, and their four children.

Back in 2021, the forward revealed that his family received ‘threats’ for his performances with the national side, and when speaking in June he shared that his children are confused as to why so much anger is directed towards him by fans.

He had hinted at continuing on at Atletico via Instagram last week, but the comments he made prior to the Euros suggested otherwise.

‘For me, the easiest thing is not to play in Spain, for my life, for what I have to go through when I go out on the street in our country,’ he told Cadenas Ser.

‘The easy thing last summer would have been to leave Atletico. I had better financial offers, great teams, but I have the illusion of winning with Atletico, when I see the way people react to our matches and our victories, that part weighs a lot.’

Morata has previously said his children don’t understand why fans get so angry at him

We have seen this pattern with Morata before. The striker notoriously endured a tough spell in the Premier League at Chelsea.

The striker’s time at the Bridge can be described as simply miserable. After joining the Blues in 2017 for a then club-record fee of £70.6million, the expectation weighed heavily on his shoulders.

While he netted a respectable 15 times in his first season at Chelsea, even getting his hands on the FA Cup, Morata struggled to live up to the hype.

After 18 months in west London, he returned to the Spanish capital a shell of the man that arrived with such high hopes.

The troubles he faces in the present day with Spain, are similar to those he experienced in his short spell in the English capital. He didn’t feel the warmth from supporters. It knocked him for six.

The Spaniards struggles are similar to those he suffered during his 18 months at Chelsea

‘I had lost confidence in myself previously. I was very upset by the opinion of the people in England. I think they caught me in the middle of everything,’ Morata told Goal back in 2019.

‘I didn’t quite feel loved or appreciated by the club or the fans. I started very well at Chelsea, but an injury in the end leaves you dry.

‘At Chelsea, there came a time when my team-mates, except for the Spaniards, well… you know, it is not the same when you play and you know that you give a pass to someone who is not going to do as well.

‘You do not give the pass in the same way. Everyone who has played football once will understand that.’

While his record at Chelsea didn’t warrant adoration, what he has done in the colours of Spain certainly justifies more love. But he isn’t getting it.

Morata has won all 13 of his matches as Spain captain since being appointed in March 2023
Lamine Yamal is setting the world alight for Spain at just 16 years of age
Nico Williams plays to the left of Morata and has arguably been Spain’s best player at the Euros

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Since taking the armband in 2023, Morata has led his team out a total of 13 times, in which Spain have reigned supreme on every single occasion.

With the youthful exuberance of Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams on either side of him, Morata is excelling under De la Fuente.

And while he may not be feeling the love, Morata’s devotion to the country’s cause remains. He was spotted crying tears of joy upon the final whistle of Spain’s extra-time quarter-final victory over hosts Germany.

At the time, many believed it was due to the striker potentially being shown a yellow card while on the bench during the celebrations of Mikel Merino’s late winner, which would have landed him a suspension.

But he has since revealed that the information was incorrect and that he will be available for the semi-final on Tuesday. Yet again, it gave him the opportunity to release his anger.

Not holding back his frustration, He said: ‘The other day, people said I was crying [on the touchline] because I’d been given a yellow card.

The 31-year-old was caught crying tears of joy after Spain secured victory over the Germans

‘What nonsense is that! I was crying because my country, with me as captain, had got into the semifinals. I could never criticise someone who was crying because of that. But I’m criticised, when I’d cut my hand off to win the Euros.

‘I try to enjoy this tournament, which could be my last games with the national team, and in the future, what will be, will be.

‘Maybe one day they’ll even miss me. Each day, the moment for leaving is closer, that’s why I enjoy it, and that’s why I’ll cry at whatever comes next, for good or bad.’

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