David Silva ranks Spain team-mate Andres Iniesta ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world.
Spain meet Portugal on Wednesday in the semi-finals of Euro 2012, with Silva and Iniesta coming face-to-face with Ronaldo, who has impressed in the tournament since his disappointing showing against Germany and Denmark in the opening two games.
Iniesta has also enjoyed an excellent campaign so far and has a pass completion rate of 91 percent, but it is his general influence on Spain’s play that Silva has lauded, pointing out just how vital he is to Vicente del Bosque’s side.
“The press often ask me about Messi and Ronaldo and who is the best but one thing for me is very clear,” Silva told reporters.
“For me, the number one is Andres Iniesta, because he is my team-mate for Spain and I can see that he is able to do even more difficult things on the pitch. Andres is magic with the ball and a great person, a big player for the team.
“I don’t know Ronaldo or Messi personally, but Andres is such a big player and character – so important.
“Portugal are a good team and have played some great football. They have also shown that they are not just about Ronaldo, no matter how good he is for Portugal and Real Madrid. We are not obsessed just with playing against Ronaldo.
“We are ready for the Portugal game. We know it will be difficult but we remain optimistic.
“The fear will be with Portugal because they are playing the champions.
“Portugal beat us recently in a friendly but that signifies nothing. This is a semi-final at the Euros and everything is different. To play another final with Spain will fulfil a big dream for many of us.”
Spain have received a fair amount of criticism in the tournament thus far, with much of it centred on Del Bosque’s decision to often start without a striker, opting instead for Cesc Fabregas in a ‘false nine’ role.
But Silva insists that the side have improved this year.
“It’s not been easy,” the Manchester City midfielder said. “But I think we have improved as a team in this European Championship.
“I think we showed against France that we’re together as a unit. I think opponents should fear us rather than us fear them. We are the key team in the semi-final.
“If we control the ball then we have chances to complete the victory. That is our mission and we will give everything to make sure we win.”