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Jun 14, 200914:30 Live
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Stadium: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
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The Euro 2008 titleholders - who are tipped as favorites to win the competition – are expected to qualify comfortably from their group which excludes the likes of big guns such as Brazil or Italy.
However, things may not be as easy as anticipated by football pundits…
These two La Roja stars will categorically miss the entire Confederation Cup tournament due to bad injuries that are believed to keep them out for several weeks.
Speaking to AS, Barcelona’s 25-year-old influential midfielder Andres Iniesta described the pain of losing out from such a prestigious competition.
“It’s a huge blow, since throughout the entire season; I had a lot of desire to play with the national team in a tournament like this,”
“It is a difficult situation for me to accept, but when there is no remedy, nothing can be done,”
Villareal skipper Marco Senna is also part of Spain’s casualties, which foretells that the team’s midfield might feel the weakness caused by the duo’s absence. Nevertheless, Coach Vicente Del Bosque refused to take these injury worries as an obstacle to the Spanish national team’s success in South Africa this month. Del Bosque, who branded Spain’s style of play as “unchangeable”, told AS:
“We are now working to amend the losses caused by the injury to [Marcos] Senna and [Andres] Iniesta.
“But injuries are part of the game. Their absences will be noticeable, but we have alternatives and we are ready to overcome the problem.
“It is necessary to let all the lads recover after the club competitions and also make them realise that we are about to play in a FIFA tournament that will be watched by millions around the world.”
Speaking about the Confederations Cup tournament’s importance, Coach Vicente Del Bosque continued:
“Spain has a responsibility to fulfil as the European champions and it is necessary to meet those expectations.
“A competition like this is always a trap. If you win it, it won’t be given much importance but if you fail, then it will be highlighted to you.”
Liverpool’s Arbeloa – who could fancy his chances of playing in South Africa – underlined Spain’s seriousness ahead of the mini-tournament.
“We all want to repeat our Euro 2008 success by winning the Confederations Cup.”
Spain are very much likely to enjoy a dream start in the Confederations Cup on Sunday against New Zealand. On paper, La Roja are way ahead of the All Whites in every part. However, Spain’s boss Del Bosque believes that underestimating underdogs and eventually getting unconvincing results against them could affect the entire campaign.
“New Zealand, Iraq and South Africa have nothing to lose against the champions of Europe,”
“These three games worry me the most because if we relax and we stumble, things could get complicated. We already know what comes later on: Italy or Brazil in the semi-finals and final.
“It is necessary to get straight into it from the first game and then we can wait with excitement for the world champions.”
While the Spanish national team is already thinking of reaching the final of the Confederations Cup, New Zealand aren’t ruling themselves out just yet.
The team that were the first to land in South Africa for the Confederations Cup tournament may not be the first to leave the country.
Despite a very poor pedigree at the international level, New Zealand’s coach Ricki Herbert insists that his team are ready to leave up to the challenge.
“We have never had a point in the Confederations Cup before, and to win a game would be an incredible experience for us. People must not underestimate us, we are here to win a game.
“It is important for the country that we compete at this level with some of the best teams in the word. We know that we have some challenges ahead of us, but as a team, it is challenges we like.”