PURCHASE, N.Y. – It was a difficult 48 hours of soccer for David Villa.
On Sunday, he joined more than 82,000 fans at Met Life Stadium to see his former FC Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi miss a penalty kick as Chile defeated Argentina in a penalty-kick shootout in the Copa America final for the second time in as many years.
And on Monday, the former Spanish star watched on television with his family and New York City FC teammate Andoni Iraola as Spain was eliminated from Euro 2016 by Italy.
“It was difficult for me because Spain didn’t play well. Italy was better. Congratulations to Italy,” Villa said on Tuesday, as NYCFC prepared for Sunday's #NYDerby at Yankee Stadium against the rival New York Red Bulls. “Difficult for Spain, because in the last year we are used to seeing the national team win, always.”
Just as he believes NYCFC’s 7-0 loss to the Red Bulls at Yankee Stadium on May 21 was one of those impossible-to-explain, freak occurrences, Villa is hoping Spain’s performance against Italy was a one-off, especially with World Cup qualification kicking off in the fall – including a rematch with Italy in Milan on Oct. 6.
“We have very good players. Maybe the Spanish team needs a change, I don’t know. The federation and obviously [Vicente] del Bosque is the best coach to make the decision,” Villa said. “They have to stay ready because in September they have qualifying games for Russia. In Russia, they have another opportunity and I’m sure the Spanish team will be more competitive than at the Euro.”
Villa was also gutted for Messi, who announced his retirement from international soccer after Argentina fell in a fourth consecutive final.
“It’s very bad news for soccer. Messi is the best player in the world. For me, I always say the same, not only in the world, but in history,” Villa said. “I’ve never seen any player make the things Messi makes. I hope he [still] plays with Argentina because the World Cup in Russia is in two years, and obviously the World Cup in Russia is not the same without Messi.
Villa said he hadn’t spoken to Messi and doesn’t know why he made the decision he did. But he hopes that he has a change of heart after some time off to reflect.
“I don’t know what happened in his mind,” Villa said. “I know he’s strong, a professional player, he’s sure now disappointed because he lost one more final in penalty kicks again. I’m sure, with one month off on holiday, he’s thinking with his family and maybe he takes another decision.”