Alexa

Youngsters could be the boost Spain needs at Euro 2008

Youngsters could be the boost Spain needs at Euro 2008

Inexperience could actually be an advantage to Spain at the European Championship, with the country needing something special to help it shed the tag of the continent's perennial underachiever.
With eight players who have made fewer than four international appearances, Spain coach Luis Aragones has one of the youngest teams in the 16-nation tournament, and although he is expected to stick with the bulk of the lineup that he has used since the 2006 World Cup, a jolt of fresh blood off the bench could be what the Spanish need to win their first title since 1964.
Dani Guiza is confident he can show that a Spanish league high of 27 goals was no fluke and that his selection was justified.
"There is a great squad, with a lot of camaraderie and motivation to win. We'll win it," the striker said Friday from the team's Austrian base. "I don't have to compete with anybody. I just need to do what I can, finish my work and see if I have opportunities and take advantage."
Guiza, who was better known for his social habits _ his wife Nuria Bermudez is a Spanish glamor model who also acts as his agent _ before a breakout season at Mallorca confirmed a euro5 million (euro8 million) move following an 11-goal campaign at Getafe.
The 27-year-old, who is being linked with Italy's big clubs and FC Barcelona, featured in both of Spain's pre-tournament warmup friendlies and will play an important role off the bench. Aragones is determined that every player hold a role with Spain looking to advance from the group phase after failing to get out of it at Portugal four years ago.
Spain opens against Russia, just as it did at Euro 2004, on Tuesday.
"Getting the win against Russia _ that's what's important," Guiza said.
Santi Cazorla was a surprise addition to the 23-man squad and Aragones has given the Villarreal midfielder two caps in his first two chances. The 23-year-old winger could start against the Russians should regulars Andres Iniesta or David Silva not recover from separate illnesses in time.
"I couldn't ask for anything more, this is a dream," Cazorla said after his debut.
And with strikers David Villa and Sergio Garcia also training separately on Friday to overcome leg injuries, the odds of Cazorla of making it three straight appearances just keep getting better.
Garcia might not have even been considered if teenage striker Bojan Krkic hadn't passed on a call-up due to fatigue. Krkic's presence would have taken the overall goal tally of Spain's four strikers this season through all competitions to 97 goals.
Ruben de la Red is a versatile player who can play either the holding midfield position or move to the back line, while center back Raul Albiol has four games under his belt, including a morale-boosting 3-1 qualifying win at Denmark that turned the team around. Right-back Alvaro Arbeloa is just waiting for his chance while left-back Fernando Navarro accepts his backup role.
"I have hopes of playing, of doing what I can for my country in a major competition like the Euro," Navarro, who earned his first cap against the United States on Wednesday, said. "It's a very nice opportunity for the newcomers and the veterans, there's a good group and we'll work for them to achieve good results."
Only third-choice goalkeeper Andres Palop remains without an international game of the five new players selected by Aragones for the Euro 2008 squad.