Rodri hoping Premier League experience can help Spain cause
The midfielder swapped Atletico Madrid for Manchester City in the summer.
Manchester City midfielder Rodri believes his move to the Premier League has made him a better player as he looks to become a regular for Spain.
The 23-year-old has started four of his country’s eight Euro 2020 qualifiers so far and is set to be involved again in Friday’s Group F clash with Malta in Cadiz.
And he hopes his summer move to Premier League champions City from LaLiga heavyweights Atletico Madrid will boost his chances of becoming a regular for his country.
“When you decide to make a change it’s for individual growth, and it’s been good for me,” he said about his move to the Premier League from LaLiga’s Atletico Madrid in the summer.
“It’s a competitive league, the football is more direct and makes you learn.
“I am a more complete player and I can contribute something more to the national team.”
Rodri faces strong competition for a place in Spain’s midfield, with the likes of former Atletico team-mate Saul, Barcelona star Sergio Busquets and Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago also in the squad.
Rodri, who has filled in at centre-back for City this season, added at a press conference covered by sefutbol.com: “My position is a place of leadership in the national team. I’ve not played a lot of matches but I want to be a leader on the pitch, my position demands it.
“I know that my position isn’t easy, and even less so in a national team that aspires to win everything. I hope to grow day by day and with time you will see the best version of me.”
Spain are looking to return to winning ways when they take on minnows Malta having drawn their last two group matches, 1-1 against both Norway and Sweden.
Robert Moreno’s men have already booked their spot in next summer’s finals while Malta are playing for pride with just three points to show from their eight games.
Malta actually gave a good account of themselves in the game against Spain in March, with the 2010 World Cup winners running out 2-0 winners courtesy of a brace from Alvaro Morata.
Malta coach Ray Farrugia said, according to uefa.com: “Spain away will be a very difficult test for us. Three days later we meet Norway at home in our final qualifier.
“This will be another tough match against a strong team but we will be doing our utmost to put in good performances in both games and try to end this qualifying competition on a bright note.”
Wolves winger Adama Traore had been in line to play for Spain after winning his first senior call up but he has had to withdraw through injury.
Pau Torres and Dani Olmo could make their debuts but Valencia forward Rodrigo is unavailable with a back problem.
Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga might be given the nod to start in goal ahead of David De Gea, who limped out of the Sweden game in October but has featured regularly for Manchester United since.
As for Malta, veteran defender Steve Borg will miss the match through suspension, meaning there could be a place for Jonathan Caruana, while Colchester’s Luke Gambin is expected to win his 23rd cap.