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Mar 26, 2013

Pique hits out at 'bipolar' Spain fans

Gerard Pique has said pundits and fans in Spain tend to over-react to any minor setback but the players have learned to ignore the kneejerk criticism they can face.

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Spain were held to an unexpected 1-1 home draw by Finland in Friday's World Cup qualifier, leading to calls for coach Vicente Del Bosque to change tactics and introduce a more direct Plan B.

Speaking to El Pais ahead of La Roja's crucial Group I match against France in Paris, Pique said such reactions were best ignored considering how much success Spain's tiki-taka style had brought in recent years.

"People are asking if we should not be more direct, get more crosses in and shoot more," he said. "If you spend six or seven years winning like this, controlling the game with 70% possession, making chances... are we going to change now because we drew one game?

"The world wants to play like Spain and we talk about changing our style? It is incredible. Spanish culture says you are in crisis if you lose one game, even after doing what nobody had ever done - Euros, World Cup, Euros. This country is bipolar. The fans and the press are bipolar."

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque's calmness made sure his players were not fazed by critical reaction, Pique explained, adding: "He sees everything very clearly, and the players know that."

The defender said he had witnessed a similar reaction when his club side, Barcelona, were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Real Madrid and lost their Champions League last-16 first leg at AC Milan.

But he stressed that they had to ignore the critics, pointing out that they remain on track to romp home in La Liga and are well-placed in Europe, having overcome Milan in the second leg.

"The only thing is we will not be able to play the Copa final," he said. "Five years ago, nobody cared about the Copa. Now it seems the most important trophy in the world. Some perspective, please."

The way Barca had been able to deal with the two-month absence of coach Tito Vilanova as he received treatment for a cancer relapse in New York, was another example of their strength, Pique said.

"I am very proud because it seems as if nothing important has happened, when in reality it was something incredibly far out of the normal way of things," he said.

"Now Tito is returning, and it is as if nothing had happened. I am really looking forward to seeing him. People are much more important than everything else."

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