WE'LL GIVE 'EM EL ... Spain star Xavi
XAVI has angrily blasted suggestions Spain will try to stitch up Italy by playing out a stalemate with Croatia.
Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon voiced fears of a 2-2 Euro draw between the defending champions and Croatia in Gdansk tonight — which would see the Azzurri go home.
But Spain’s midfield star Xavi bristled when asked if they would try to block Italy’s route to the next round.
He snapped: “Absolutely not. We only know how to play attacking football, so a draw would not suit us.
“We will go out determined to hold possession, to move the ball and to go forward.
“This is our style and the one that made us European and world champions.
“Our aim is always to go out for victory and against Croatia it will be no exception.
“We depend on ourselves to qualify and will try to win and be first in our group.”
Italy take on the eliminated Republic of Ireland in Poznan and are two points adrift of Spain and Croatia.
A 2-2 draw would see Luka Modric and Croatia qualify for the next stage at the expense of Italy on goals scored.
But Xavi added: “We have the same hunger that we had in Euro 2008 and at the 2010 World Cup.
“We’re among the favourites and we have the possibility to make history and win another Euro title. But we know that will only be possible through hard work and humility.
“Croatia have a fantastic team with great individual talent. I don’t expect an easy game.” Fernando Torres is set to lead Spain’s attack for the second straight game following his double against Ireland.
But the striker also slammed the paranoid Italians and their conspiracy theories.
He said: “Just talking about it is disrespectful to both sets of players. Both teams need to win — neither will go for the draw.”
Spain, along with Greece, are two countries in the grip of massive financial problems with millions struggling to make ends meet.
Torres admitted: “We are motivated by a desire to bring them happiness as we did two and four years ago. Football can be a motivating factor even in these difficult times.”
Croatia boss Slaven Bilic admits his men will have to up their game if they are to win.
He said: “We’ll need to play the best game of our lives, be fully concentrated for 90 minutes and take our chances.”
CROATIA (likely): Pletikosa, Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic, Rakitic, Vukojevic, Modric, Pranjic, Mandzukic, Jelavic.
SPAIN (likely): Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Fabregas, Silva, Torres.
Cities & Stadiums
The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments
|2008||Spain||Germany||Russia / Turkey|
|2004||Greece||Portugal||Netherlands / Czech Republic|
|2000||France||Italy||Netherlands / Portugal|
|1996||Germany||Czech Republic||France / England|
|1992||Denmark||Germany||Netherlands / Sweden|
|1988||Netherlands||Soviet Union||Italy / West Germany|
|1984||France||Spain||Denmark / Portugal|
|1972||West Germany||Soviet Union||Belgium|