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Spain´s Martinez calls for maximum focus

Javi Martinez believes Spain are still the team to beat in international football and must maintain their high levels of motivation.

The world and European champions have been the outstanding team in international football over the last five years, but Martinez is wary of complacency as Spain prepare for 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and France.

“Spain are the team to beat. It is an extra motivation for the opposition and for ourselves we must match that,” he told reporters ahead of his side’s game in Minsk on Friday.

“Much of the qualification is at stake and a win would be an important step. It is important to continue on our current path – it seems that it is now easier to win matches but it is not.”

The clash with Belarus is next on the agenda for Vicente del Bosque’s side, but many supporters are already looking forward to Tuesday’s meeting with France, and Bayern Munch’s Martinez believes it will provide a stern test for the Euro 2012 champions.

“They have continued with a nucleus of players from last year, players with great potential,” he said.

“It will be very difficult, they are a difficult opponent and they are a power of European football that are going to make us sweat.”

With Gerard Pique injured, Sergio Ramos and Raul Albiol are the only recognised centre-backs available to Del Bosque, but Martinez feels he could provide cover should one of the pair suffer an injury.

“Last year thanks to Marcelo Bielsa I acted as cover in defence and grew into that position. At first I struggled but I then got used to it,” Martinez said, referring to his final season with Athletic Bilbao.

“I’m playing as a midfielder for Bayern and I’m available to the coach. I have not spoken with him yet, but it would not affect me if I moved back to defence and I will be happy to play there if needed.”

Tue 9 October, 2012
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