Spain ready to get into stride: Torres

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Spain have only been joining up in dribs and drabs compared with many of their rivals but they will be ready for anything once the tournament starts.

Updated: June 04, 2008 16:40 IST
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Spain, seeking their first major senior title since 1964 at Euro 2008, have only been joining up in dribs and drabs compared with many of their rivals but they will be ready for anything once the tournament starts, striker Fernando Torres has said.

"We are the last to start (training camp) but I hope we will be standing at the last," said Liverpool forward Torres, who set the Premiership alight in his first season with 24 league goals, a record for a foreign star in his first campaign.

Yet the Spanish seem in no hurry to hit top gear in their preparations for matches against Group D rivals Greece, Russia and Sweden and spent Monday on medical administration and Tuesday light training regimes at their Las Rosas complex on the outskirts of Madrid.

While the likes of France have already hit their stride by embarking on a pre-tournament friendly series the Spanish will only start their programme on Saturday against Peru in the southern city of Huelva.

On June 4 they will then play the United States in the northern city of Santander before heading out to Austria the following day.

For a difficult to satisfy Spanish press "Spain are taking things rather calmly," in the words of El Pais daily broadsheet.

But the players insist they are going to come to the boil just in time to shed their traditional underachievers' tag.

"I am convinced one of these days we are going to win something and it could be this Euro," Spanish Federation sporting director and former longserving centre half Fernando Hierro said earlier this week, insisting that Spain were raring to forget all about their World Cup second round exit to France.

Yet midfielder Xabi Alonso exercised a note of caution on Tuesday.

"We don't have a reason to declare ourselves favourites - other sides have shown themselves to be more effective," he counselled, making Germany, France and Italy his teams to beat.

Veteran coach Luis Aragones insists his men have the requisite "team spirit" to go all the way.

"This squad lacks nothing in character and we share the winning mentality of the 1964 side," insisted the man nicknamed the Wise Man of Hortaleza.

Aside from minor knocks to Andres Iniesta and Arsenal starlet Cesc Fabregas the squad have received a clean bill of health with almost two weeks to go to their first match, against Russia on June 10 in Innsbruck.

Valencia defender Carlos Marchena said on Wednesday that the Spanish would be out to live up to "the prestige and pride of a whole nation" during the event and added that the ups and downs of the qualifying campaign had bonded the squad.

Losses to Northern Ireland as well as Sweden almost derailed the Spaniards' progress and Marchena admitted: "We went through a really bad patch. But I think that helped us to close ranks around the coach."

One casualty of that process was top scorer Raul, whom Aragones dropped midway through the qualifiers and has not recalled to the squad.

"We're all really looking forward to the event. We know we can achieve something big," enthused Marchena.

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