UEFA Euro 2012: Villa-less Spain look to rub salt into Italian wounds

Updated: 10 June 2012 11:30 IST

Neither Italy nor Spain believe the absence of hot-shot David Villa will make a significant difference when the European giants open their European Championship Group C campaign here on Sunday.

UEFA Euro 2012: Villa-less Spain look to rub salt into Italian wounds

Gdansk:

Neither Italy nor Spain believe the absence of hot-shot David Villa will make a significant difference when the European giants open their European Championship Group C campaign here on Sunday.

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Spain may be missing their all-time record goal scorer but it is a small blow in comparison to the Italians, who have had the worst possible lead-in on and off the pitch with another domestic matchfixing scandal and a 3-0 hammering by Russia in last Friday's friendly.

Villa - Spain's all-time record goalscorer - was Spain's main hero two years ago when they lifted the World Cup but misses this tournament as he is still recovering from a broken leg.

But even without their star forward, winger Pedro believes they will not want for goals.

"David Villa is a very important player due to the goals he scores, he's a very dangerous forward.

"But in the squad there are players just behind who are good finishers like (David) Silva, (Andres) Iniesta, (Juan) Mata or (Jesus) Navas.

"We'll have to make up for all the goals David scores amongst the rest of us to go as far as possible in the Euros."

Spain are not just missing Villa as centre-back Carles Puyol is also out of the tournament with injury.

But Italy midfielder Thiago Motta says those who will come in to replace them are just as good.

"They won't be weaker, they're in a very good moment and over the last four years they've won everything," said the Brazlian-born Paris St Germain player.

"They're missing players like Villa and Puyol but others can come in and play at the same level.

"We need to concentrate on ourselves because they haven't changed much in those four years.

"The important thing is that we do ourselves justice on the pitch and play with the desire we've shown from the beginning to win this game."

Four years ago Spain were still the nearly men, the great under-achievers who despite generation after generation of great players, never managed to win anything.

That all changed when they finally landed the Euro title in Vienna four years ago.

Italy centre-back Giorgio Chiellini suggested it was Spain's penalty shoot-out victory over the Azzurri in the quarter-finals that gave them the self-belief to become a great team.

Four years on and world champions Spain are undoubtedly the best team on the planet and the clear favourites to prevail again.

But Barcelona's Pedro claims they're unconcerned by the pressure and aware of the strengths of their rivals.

"We've always had this pressure to be the best in the world these last few years," he said.

"We're the favourites for those titles and how we won them.

"But there are great teams, starting with our first rivals Italy who have great players."

Last August Italy actually beat Spain 2-1 in a friendly in Bari, although the world champions largely dominated the match.

In doing so, they dominated possession, as they do against everyone.

However Italy may line up with a couple a renowned ball-retainers themselves in Andrea Pirlo and Motta.

But the PSG star says they will have to play a dual role of holding possession and winning it back if they are to compete.

Topics : Andres Iniesta Lujan Barcelona Euro 2012 Football Alou Diarra Lech Poznan Italy Spain
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