Krasnodar, Russia: Spain attacking midfielder Marco Asensio shielded his team's first-choice goalkeeper David de Gea from critics on Tuesday, saying there was little more Manchester United's normally safe pair of hands could have done to save the goals he conceded against Morocco in its final group game at 2018 FIFA World Cup.
De Gea has not impressed Spain's sporting media in the campaign in Russia so far, having failed to save five in six shots against him, but Real Madrid's Asensio downplayed any talk of a somber atmosphere in the dressing room regarding the man between the posts, who let in two against the North African side in the final Group B encounter on Monday evening, which ended in a draw.
"He seems relaxed to me," Asensio told a press conference in Krasnodar, the team's base in Russia.
"There wasn't much more he could do with those goals," the 22-year-old said.
Sports newspaper Marca said that Spain's squad and De Gea, in particular, had appeared to suffer from a lack of concentration so far during the World Cup.
"It's normal that so much is demanded from Spain's goalkeeper, but he is more than prepared, with great drive and I am sure that we will see the level he has displayed during the season here at the World Cup," he continued.
Asensio himself has been strongly linked with a potential move to one of Man U's biggest rivals, Liverpool, a transfer that has been rumored to be worth around 180 million euros ($209 million).
He declined to discuss that rumor at the press conference, instead insisting he was focused on the World Cup.
Spain only just scraped a draw against Morocco, securing the winning spot in their group which means La Roja look to take on Russia in the last-16.