Thursday, February 2, 2023

Aragones will ring the changes for Greece at Euro 2008

Spain coach Luis Aragones admitted he will make changes to his side for their final Euro 2008 Group D match against Greece on Wednesday.

Spain sewed up top spot in the group with a game to spare after David Villa's injury time goal condemned Sweden to a 2-1 defeat on Saturday.

That coupled with Russia's 1-0 victory over Greece means that no-one can catch the Iberians in the group.

They will play either world champions Italy, France or Romania in the quarter-finals in Vienna.

And Aragones admitted he will consider resting players to keep some of his star performers fresh for the knock-out phase.

“We are lucky and some other players will have the chance to play,” he said.

“There will be room for other players and we will rest players that have played a lot.

“(David) Silva is tired and he has a problem with his nail so this gives us the chance to make changes.”

Silva was one of Spain's best players against Sweden, crossing for Fernando Torres to open the scoring on 15 minutes after a clever short-corner routine involving Xavi and Villa.

“He (Silva) has a little problem and I hope not to have to replace him but we have two players for every position so the normal thing to do is to replace him with either Sergio Garcia or (Santi) Cazorla,” said Aragones.

The coach was feeling so confident that he said he was indifferent as to whom his team plays in the next round.

“In this tournament there are the best teams in the world other than Brazil and Argentina. All the teams are difficult to play against,” he said.

Sweden certainly proved so and had the better of the first half with Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalising Torres's goal on 34 minutes.

He didn't come out for the second half, though, and Spain went on to boss that, although without creating many scoring opportunities until Villa's dramatic late winner.

“In the first half there was a 15 minute spell where we played to Sweden's strengths with long balls and hence we conceded the goal,” added Aragones.

“But after the break we dominated possession and Sweden, who had been very strong physically in the first half, started to tire, despite continuing to defend well.

“So I have to thank Villa for his goal which was almost impossible to score.”

Villa produced a touch of sublime quality to take down a long punt forward from Joan Capdevila in his stride and beat Petter Hansson in one movement before finishing with aplomb past Andreas Isaksson.

He thus earned his second man-of-the-match award in a row and having struck a hat-trick in Spain's first match against Russia, he is the tournament's top scorer on four goals.

“To tell you the truth I'm more proud about this goal than the hat-trick I scored the other day,” he said.

“Even if it was just one goal I was very happy to be there and earn us three points because it was more difficult today but I hope the whole country enjoyed this win with us and we hope to keep on fighting and keep going.

“I'll never forget this day or any of them, I've always dreamed of this but you have to be realistic, it's difficult to play so well in two games,” he added of his award.

“The main thing is team has played two great matches and the most important thing is the three points. That and the fact that we're nearly in the next round makes me happier than two man-of-the-match awards.”

Villa said Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands have been been the most impressive teams so far in the competition.

“These three teams, along with Croatia who have also won two matches, are the teams that are doing the best so far in this tournament,” he said.

“We have to continue like this although this doesn't give us any right (to win).”


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