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Spain´s Alonso eager for Euro kick-off

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Jun 2012

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Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso says the whole squad is eager to get the defence of their European crown underway.

Spain edged Germany 1-0 in the final of the Euro 2009 courtesy of a 33rd-minute goal from Fernando Torres, and Alonso says the holders are ready to defend their title.

“The mood is good, everyone is looking forward to start, to make their debuts, we have been ready for a few weeks in training and we want to start kicking the ball,” the Real Madrid midfielder said.

“When the first game starts we will be watching it on TV, but as soon as we start playing the real work will start and that is what we want.”

Spain kick-off their campaign against Italy and the 30-year-old Alonso is anticipating a difficult match, claiming Italy, despite their disappointing showing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, always perform well in big tournaments.

“We are expecting a very tough and difficult game because we know the competitive nature of the Italian players,” he said.

“Even with the problems surrounding the squad, the media and the gambling (match-fixing) thing they have had, that means that maybe they are more dangerous.

“Whenever they have had problems they get stronger. We saw that in the World Cup in 2006 and in these Euros it has happened, so that is not a relief for us, it is more reason for us to be ready.”

Alonso downplayed the loss of key players such as Carles Puyol and David Villa, stating the 23 players within the Spain squad must be able to deal with any setbacks.

“We value them (Puyol and Villa) and we really appreciate what they have done over the last few years, they have been key players for us,” Alonso said.

“But you have to look forward and move on because you have to cope with injuries and suspensions during the competition.

“The ones that are ready, the 23 of us will have to face three different and difficult opponents in the group stage and then hopefully we can make it all the way through to the final.”

Following their opening encounter with Italy on June 10, Spain later face Ireland and Croatia in Group C.

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