Sat, 18 Sep 2021

TOKYO, July 30 (Xinhua) -- The Spanish men's football team look to take an important step towards an Olympic medal when they face Cote d'Ivoire on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the tournament on Saturday, but they will have to improve their efficiency in front of goal if they are to qualify for the semi-finals.

The Spanish topped their group thanks to a 1-0 win over Australia, a 0-0 draw against Egypt and a 1-1 draw against Argentina and while coach Luis de la Fuente can be pleased with his side's defensive record, he knows that in attack they let their rivals off the hook too often.

"The data shows that it is hard for us to take chances, but it also shows we are the team that most gets into our rivals' areas. It's true that at times we fail to take advantage of that, but the team is doing things very well and improving," assured De la Fuente after the Argentina game.

Spain's two goals in the tournament so far have both been scored by Real Sociedad players, with Mikel Oyarzabal netting against Australia and Mikel Merino scoring against Argentina and both are likely to start against Cote d'Ivoire.

Right back Oscar Gil missed the game through suspension and will probably be replaced by Oscar Mingueza, who has recovered from the muscle injury he suffered against Egypt.

Meanwhile midfielder Dani Ceballos, who suffered a badly twisted ankle in the same game, is also working hard to put himself back in contention for the match, despite initial estimates that the injury would sideline him for 3-4 weeks.

Although it is hard to imagine Ceballos starting, the creative midfielder would help to give the final pass that has so far been missing for the Spaniards and which could derail their Olympic campaign unless they resolve it fast.

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