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Spain intent on breaking “horrible statistic” says Casillas

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Jun 2008

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Captain Iker Casillas says Spain will take to the field against Germany in Sunday's Euro 2008 final with only one objective in mind — to end their 44-year title famine.

“We have the chance to break this horrible statistic for Spain, we haven't won an international title for a long time (since Euro 64).

“We went close 24 years ago (when losing in the 1984 final to France) but didn't succeed. Now we're in this final and winning it is important,” he said here Saturday.

The Real Madrid keeper, speaking at the pre-match press conference at the Ernst Happel stadium, says he'll be dreaming of lifting the trophy on Sunday night.

“To dream is free! But only one captain can lift the Cup, let's hope that's me.”

Casillas put Spain's impressive run to their date with Germany and destiny down in part to their decision to shun the bright lights and set up their Euro base camp in Neustift, a Tyrolian town of 4,000 inhabitants.

“This little village where we were based gave us such a warm welcome, we felt so at home. It was a different way of preparing for the final, all the villagers were with us and part of our succss might be due to the fact that we stayed there.”

Another factor he suggested as why it's Spain and not France or Italy or Portugal confronting the Germans was a generational thing.

“Other teams are now feeling a generational change. After the 2006 World Cup we changed the group and brought in younger players with more of a future ahead of them.”

Casillas knows that in Germany La Furia Roja face a team that specialises in saving its best for the big games, and they don't come much bigger than a European final.

“They're veterans, they always get to the semi-finals or finals. History shows they get beyond the quarter-final barrier, whereas Spain get stuck there.”

Casillas like many of his teammates is used to the pressure a final brings at club level, but he insisted that a final on the international stage was a totally different and altogether more daunting proposition.

“Given this tournament is held only every four years and that you come up against national teams it's difficult to reach the final.

“That gives you added pressure, you're more nervous, you feel responsible for your colleagues and 44 million people!”

For his Sao Paulo-born teammate Marcos Senna the final offers him the chance to become the first Brazilian to lift a European title.

And appearing alongside Casillas here Senna observed: “For me I feel proud to be part of this Spanish team and get into the history books.

“I feel privileged being Spanish and Brazilian. For now I'm only thinking about being Spainsh, I'll have plenty of time to think about Brazil later.”

For teammate Carlos Puyol, coach Luis Aragones has played a huge role in getting Spain this far.

“He's shown us the way, and we're all with him. We've lived some difficult moments, he's been criticised, but that's only helped to strengthen us.

“We've got one game left and if we win we'll be happy for the coach, he deserves it.”

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