BORDEAUX, France (AP) — Sitting on the bench at another major tournament is clearly getting to Spain midfielder Pedro Rodriguez. And his frustration has finally come out. In comments relayed by the Spanish media on Monday, Pedro said he was disappointed at his lack of game-time at Euro 2016 and that perhaps it wasn’t worth his while being part of the group.
“I don’t regret what I said, but if I have to apologize to someone, I will,” he said at a subsequent press briefing he wasn’t scheduled to attend. “I want to play. Like everybody else. I’m happy to be here among the 23. But it’s better to be playing than not participating. I don’t know why this has become such a big issue.”
His comments stirred up the Spanish camp a day before the two-time defending champion plays Croatia in their final Group D match at the European Championship. Pedro has been a fringe player over the past few years, part of coach Vicente Del Bosque’s squads but rarely a starter. One big match he started was the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands, but he was substituted in the second half.
Pedro explained himself to Del Bosque after his comments to the Spanish media but the coach said he understood his frustration. “We talked and he said he didn’t want to create any problems with anybody,” Del Bosque said. “He only expressed his feelings. It’s natural to have some discrepancy within the 12 players who don’t get to play. There was nothing to it. We are not going to be tough on him because of this.”
Defender Gerard Pique also downplayed the controversy, saying there was nothing unusual about what Pedro said. “They were comments from a football player who wants to play more,” Pique said. “This is normal. We remain together. We are a family.”
Del Bosque didn’t say whether he would rest some regular starters against Croatia as Spain has already qualified for the round of 16 following its two wins. Spain needs at least a draw to secure first place in the group. Croatia can also guarantee its place in the next round with a draw at Stade de Bordeaux.
“I don’t know whether or not it’s ideal to rest some players,” Del Bosque said. “These players are used to playing several games in a row.”