High hopes for Spanish team at opening match
Touted as a hot favourite in Euro 2008 by Jose Mourinho, Spain is expected to battle their way through the opening game on Tuesday.9 June 2008
SALZBURG - Hopes are high that Spain can shake off the reputation as perennial underachievers and can lift the title for the first time since 1964 on Tuesday when it plays against Russia.
They have been named title favourite by new Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho and an expectant Spanish Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia will be present in the Tivoli stadium for their country's opening game.
Russia will find goals hard to come by after losing striker Pavel Pogrebnyak for the whole tournament because of a knee injury. Coach Guus Hiddink's problems have been compounded by the absence of Pogrebnyak's Zenit St Petersburg teammate Andrei Arshavin through suspension.
Despite the lack of firepower up front, Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta said his side would not be underestimating the opposition.
"Even with these players missing it will be a tough game," he said. "Of course, they are important players but the Russians are strong collectively."
The 24-year-old will most likely play on the right while Cesc Fabregas looks to be the one to lose out to Iniesta's teammate Xavi despite a highly successful season at Arsenal.
Valencia's David Silva and Xabi Alonso of Liverpool or Marcos Senna will complete the midfield.
Up front, coach Luis Aragones looks to have a lethal strike force in the form of Fernando Torres and David Villa, who have both recovered from minor niggles.
[dpa / Expatica]
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