Rodri response: What has been said about the Spain midfielder's Scotland verdict?

There has been a strong response to Rodri’s stinging criticism of Scotland after Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over Spain in the the Euro 2024 qualifier at Hampden Park.
Scotland captain Andy Robertson has defended his team's approach and Spain skipper Rodri has been ridiculed for his criticism of the home team at Hampden Park on Tuesday. Picture: Craig Foy / SNSScotland captain Andy Robertson has defended his team's approach and Spain skipper Rodri has been ridiculed for his criticism of the home team at Hampden Park on Tuesday. Picture: Craig Foy / SNS
Scotland captain Andy Robertson has defended his team's approach and Spain skipper Rodri has been ridiculed for his criticism of the home team at Hampden Park on Tuesday. Picture: Craig Foy / SNS

The Spain captain, one of the world’s best defensive midfielders, described Scotland as “a bit rubbish” and said their game plan was to “provoke”. Rodri’s assessment was echoed by the Spanish national team on social media, describing Steve Clarke’s team as “aggressive”. But Scottish pundits have not been having any of it. Former Scotland manager Alex McLeish told Spain to "eat the humble pie".

What Rodri said

Rodri was speaking to Viaplay Sports in the tunnel after the final whistle and his opinion quickly became a big talking point. He said: “It's the way they play. In the end, for me, it's a bit rubbish because they are always wasting time. They, how do you say, provoke you. They always fall and for me this is not football. For the speed of the sport you have to move on, but the referee has to take part of this and he'll say nothing”. He added that Spain “will learn for the next time."

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Reporter Connie McLaughlin turned the tables on Rodri, saying that many Scotland fans might have in fact felt it was Spain who were doing the falling over to the ground. Rodri responded: “We always fight, but this is not about fighting. It's about wasting time, four, five player son the floor. This depends on the referees, it doesn't depend on us.”

Spanish national team view

The Spanish national team's official Twitter account got in on the act, labelling Scotland “aggressive” and noting “the @SEFutbol, despite dominating the match statistics, has not been able to score in its second qualifying match for the #EURO2024”.

Spain had not been beaten in Euro qualifying since 2014. They had won 34 of their last 38 European qualifying matches, with three draws, but looked unsettled in Glasgow.

Scotland response

Scotland captain Andy Robertson, who will face Rodri again on Sunday when Liverpool travel to Manchester City, was also questioned about perceived gamesmanship that took place and the left-back defended his team’s approach. “Yeah look, I think they were going down a little bit easily, we were trying to say that,” he told Viaplay Sports. “We were always going to try to be physical, we wanted to be in their faces, win our headers and challenges and I think we did that. I don’t think we crossed the line. They were, especially in the first half, rolling about a wee bit much but they use their experience and they got a couple of us booked which is fair enough to them.”

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Scotland’s two-goal hero Scott McTominay admitted there was some gamesmanship going on but he felt both teams were guilty. “I feel everyone on the pitch was at it, diving around, making the game slow,” he said.

“It wasn't really a clean game in terms of everyone getting up and getting on with little fouls. It was a difficult night for the referee because everyone was making the most of everything. But sometimes that's the way it has got to be, you have got to do stuff like that when you want to keep hold of a lead.”

Aggressive Rodri

Rodri’s comments about Scotland’s aggression came a few days after he was criticised for wiping out Norway Martin Odegaard in Spain’s first Euro 2024 qualifier. Arsenal's captain looked in pain after Rodri's challenge, but was able to finish the match in Malaga.

“I’m pretty sure I should have had a penalty," Odegaard told Norwegian station TV2 after the Rodri challenge. "He’s coming with his studs right on my ankle. But I’m sure I’ll get punished [if I say anymore]. I don’t bother saying anything else about the referee. It’s better not to say anything."

McCoist response

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Ally McCoist poked fun at Rodri and highlighted the “irony” of the 6ft 3in Spanish captain complaining about the physical side of the game. “I thought we were just a wee bit too physical for Rodri,” McCoist said on talkSPORT.

“We were rubbish, is that the word he used? Bless his wee Spanish heart. He's a good player but he can cope with the physical side of the game no bother so the irony of him talking about the physicality of Scotland is not lost on me.

“Man alive, Hampden was jumping. That was nothing short of fantastic! It really was. And do you know something? I can say it now, I would've said it earlier, but we weren't really in any danger. They're putting crosses into the box and the lads were absolutely tremendous, whether it was [Grant] Hanley, [Ryan] Porteous, [Liam] Cooper. Kieran Tierney was superb, Aaron Hickey, McTominay with two goals. Have I named them all yet?!”

More reaction

Former Scotland striker Kris Boyd wasn’t having any of Rodri’s complaints and he added on Sky Sports: “I hope Pep's got some new dummies ready for Rodri when he gets back to Manchester City because he certainly spat them out last night."

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Former Premier League striker Gabriel Agbonlahor also criticised Rodri for his comments. He told Talksport: “Rodri’s moaning that Scotland’s way of playing but (Spain) had triple the amount of passes than Scotland, but you both had the same amount of shots, you had 75% possession but you lost 2-0. It doesn’t matter if you’re keeping the ball, Scotland are going to have their way of playing and they’re going to hit you on the counter-attack like they did numerous times.”

Open Goal Broomhill manager and podcaster Simon Ferry reckons “Rodri needs to toughen up and grow up". He told Grosvenor Sport: “It would make no sense for Scotland to try and outplay and out-pass Spain because that would play straight into their hands. It's all sour grapes from Rodri because Spain aren't going through a particularly great time and he's the captain. Rodri is just looking for excuses – the way Scotland played was spot on.”

Next for Scotland

Scotland, meanwhile, have three more qualifying matches before they meet Spain again in October. It starts with a June double header, away to Norway and home to Georgia before a trip to Cyprus in September and then Madrid in October. Rodri's Spain are not due to play during the June international break, allowing their rivals to potentially steal a march. Norway have a chance to make up ground at home to Cyprus after hosting Scotland.