- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2016

SAINT-MARTIN-DE-RE, France (AP) - An over-confident Spain has learned the lessons of its shock defeat to Croatia and won’t fall into the same trap against Italy in the last 16 of the European Championship.

Defender Juanfran Torres said Thursday that Spain, already qualified for the round of 16, fell into a trap at 1-0 up.

“This small excess of confidence that we had is something that needs to change against Italy,” Torres said. “We were in control and had chances to close the game but didn’t. In a knockout game, I’m certain that we won’t have everybody in attack trying to score as happened against Croatia.

“It was a mistake by the whole team and I’m sure that it won’t happen again against Italy.”

Torres said the defeat will help Spain be better prepared for Monday’s high-profile match against Italy at the Stade de France.

“Despite the loss, the conclusions are positive,” Torres said. “It’s in the difficult moments that you have to look for positive conclusions. Nobody expected us to lose, especially us. It was a loss that will make us stronger. We will fix the things that we didn’t do well against Croatia.”

The loss has come as a reality check for the two-time defending champion.

Spain was one of the favorites for the title after a good start at Euro 2016, but the surprise defeat in its final group game dropped the team to second place and set up a difficult encounter against Italy.

A draw against Croatia would have been enough to avoid a rematch of the2012 tournament’s final against the Italians, but the Spaniards relinquished their early lead and conceded a late goal, losing their first European Championship game since 2004.

Midfielder Bruno Soriano said the team has looked closely at what went wrong against Croatia and will be prepared to avoid the same mistakes.

“We have all analyzed the game against Croatia and looked into what needs to be improved,” Soriano said. “We will be ready to give our best against Italy.”

Spain defeated Italy 4-0 in the 2012 final to win its second consecutive European title.


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni

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