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Carzola can be our star says Spain

SoccerNews in European Championships, La Liga 25 Jun 2008

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Villarreal forward Santi Cazorla is quickly becoming the revelation of Spain's run into the latter stages of Euro 2008 and the team's players agreed that he is a player who could make the difference.

Spanish journalists and supporters alike have been surprised by the impact Cazorla has made, even though he has only been introduced as a substitute in Spain's matches.

But the 23-year-old's reputation is growing quickly, despite earning just six caps, and even his team-mates have started to extoll his virtues.

“The most important thing is the team and anyone can help us win a match,” said left-back Joan Capdevila.

“We're doing very well and Cazorla is doing well. He's been the surprise of this tournament.

“For someone of his age he's acting as if he's always been here. He's very sure of himself and he's surprised everyone with the way he's handling this situation, he's growing as a player.

“He can do anything, he can play on both wings, he just needs to score a goal and maybe he will do that in the semi-final or final.”

Midfielder Andres Iniesta, who has been the player to make way for Cazorla, has been equally impressed.

“I'm not surprised, he has the right quality to be in the national team and he's getting his reward,” he added.

“He's played very well the last two seasons, he's a good guy and as a player he's showing every day just how good he is.”

Cazorla started out at Villarreal but made little impact in his first few seasons and in 2006/07 he was loaned out to Recreativo de Huelva.

He did so well there that he became a regular fixture upon his return to Villarreal last season and has now made the step up to the national team.

Defender Sergio Ramos seems to be the diminutive winger's biggest fan.

“He's phenomenal. He contributes a great deal both on and off the pitch,” he said.

“He's always happy and that's infectious, you get happy just being around him.”

While Spain have been enjoying their own myriad of attacking talents, they are nonetheless wary of the threat posed by star Russia forward Andrei Arshavin, rapidly becoming the most talked-about player here.

“He's a very important player for Russia, he's scored goals in the championship and he's one of the best players here, there's no doubt about that,” said Sergio Ramos.

“He can play on both sides of the pitch and with the other forward (Roman Pavlyuchenko) they're a good pair and can really do us a lot of harm.

“We have to try to close them down and press hard on them all together and not lose our shape because that's when they'll cause us problems.

“We have to keep things tight but if they push forward they might leave some spaces for us to exploit and that would be good for us.”

Spain are on the verge of making history having reached the last four of a major competition for the first time since 1984, when they lost to France in the Euro final.

The players know they are on the brink of achieving great things and Sergio Ramos is determined they won't let this chance slip away, despite the pressure.

“This is a big motivation for us, this is what it means to win this kind of tournament,” he said.

“Spain have always had great players and we've had many opportunities but we've not succeeded for many years.

“Once again though we have an opportunity and we have to stand united and show our quality because this is something we've wanted for such a long time.

“There is pressure but we have an opportunity and we have to make the most of it, we can't let the pressure get to us.”

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