Italy, the opponent Spain didn’t want in Euro

June 19th, 2008 - 4:42 pm ICT by IANS  


Salzburg (Austria), June 19 (IANS) The news of the Spain’s quarterfinal line-up with Italy in the Euro 2008 football tournament’s is not sitting well with the Spanish team, which would have much preferred to face Romania, Spanish news agency EFE reported Thursday. “There’s no easy rival. At this level all are complicated. We have no preference,” Spanish players and coach Luis Aragones have been saying over the past few days after beating Sweden and earning their ticket to the quarterfinals.

But the reality of the situation is something else. Aragones also said that Italy is the “best team in the world” in competitiveness and that Spain must try to play like the “Azzurri” (Blues) if it wants to advance to the final.

The Italians’ enormous experience is highly valued by the Spanish coach, who - however - had been saying that Romania was the team to beat in the Euro, although he seemed to be saying it somewhat insincerely.

The players have the same viewpoint as Aragones. One revealing detail were the great shouts of joy - at first - and then of disappointment in the press room at the Neu Tivoli stadium in Innsbruck Friday.

That was when Aragones’s players first celebrated the penalty shot secured by Romania against the Italians which could have knocked them out of the running, only to see Adrian Mutu miss it.

The same thing happened in the streets of Salzburg, where Spain is waiting for Wednesday’s game against Greece.

The Spanish team did not take the news of a new duel with Italy well. Everyone was hoping for Romania and is suspicious of Italy, despite the fact that the Blues will not have Andrea Pirlo or Gennaro Gattuso for the important match.

They are also not consoled by Spain’s victory in March’s friendly with Italy in Elche. Therefore, at present, Italy appears to have won the mental battle.

Another element in the mix will be what happens in the Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna.

There, Aragones’s squad must dispel the ghosts that beset it and bring all their talents to bear, knowing that if they want to have a chance to become the Euro champs, they first have to get past Italy.

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