Coach Luis Aragones, unlike the rest of his fellow countrymen, was keeping his feet firmly on the ground after watching Spain finally confront their demons and defeat Italy to clinch a semi-final spot at Euro 2008.
The veteran manager, attributed with producing the most successful Spanish team in over two decades, was putting a modest face on his achievement following the 4-2 penalty shoot-out defeat over the Azzurri in Vienna on Sunday.
That was the Spaniard's first win over Italy since 1920 and the first time they've made it past the quarter-finals at a major finals since 1984.
Aragones said: “I'm doing my job – as coach I'm here to win. It's important for Spain. I'm not depressed when I lose, I'm not euphoric in victory.
“I'm happy for my country, happy for my players and also for me, we're qualified and there's still a small step to go before the final.”
That 'small step' comes in the guise of Guus Hiddink's remarkable Russia, who booked their semi-final slot with a rousing 3-1 extra time win over classy Holland.
Spain routed Hiddink's young team 4-1 in the group phase, David Villa scoring a hat-trick, but Aragones predicted an entirely different style of match compared to that first round win.
“This is a great time for Russian football, because at this stage of their season they are at their peak. Many say we've beaten them before so it will be easy but it's much more complicated.
“They have a very fine team with one of the best attacks around.
“Why do we have to meet them again?!
“My team is committed to reaching the final, in the final anything can happen.”
Aragones, who is reportedly stepping down after the Euro to return to club management, dismissed the notion that he'd devise a plan to stop Russian playmaker Andrei Arshavin, who shone against the Dutch.
“We have a style of play but no special plan. We won't be changing our football (for him).”
Spanish captain and keeper Iker Casillas saved two Italian penalties from Daniele De Rossi and Antonion Di Natale, prompting Aragones to say: “I had confidence in him. He has good coaches and he watched videos (of Italians taking penalties).”
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