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Cesc and Xabi Alonso the odd-men out for Spain's Euro 2008 opener against Russia

Cesc and Xabi Alonso the odd-men out for Spain's Euro 2008 opener against Russia

Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso are likely to be on the reserves bench when Spain plays its opening game at the European Championship against Russia on Tuesday.
Spain coach Luis Aragones held the team's first full practice march session at the team's base camp at Stubai valley on Saturday with the expected starting 11 winning 5-1 over the backups thanks to David Villa's three goals.
Fabregas looked frustrated throughout the session despite insisting earlier that he would accept a substitute's role.
"I'll play when I'm called, I'm here to help the national squad to go the furthest possible," said Fabregas, the scorer of the backup side's lone goal. "If you come off the bench, you can always make the difference in a game. I have to be ready for that moment when the coach calls."
The 21-year-old Fabregas has won the FA Cup with Arsenal, while Alonso also has an FA Cup to go with his 2005 Champions League medal with Liverpool. Spain is looking to add to its tally of one major football trophy _ this same competition 44 years ago.
Spain faces Russia at Innsbruck, Austria, before playing Sweden and defending champion Greece in Group D.
Fernando Torres and Villa, who has shaken off an injury scare that forced him out of Wednesday's friendly against the United States, will be up front and expect service from wingers Andres Iniesta and David Silva and central midfielders Xavi Hernandez and Marcos Senna.
"The first game of a competition like the Euro is always the hardest. It's very important to start with a win," midfielder Ruben de la Red said. "If you win that first game, everything else is much easier."
It wasn't four years ago. Spain opened Euro 2004 with a 1-0 win over the Russians, but it drew its next game against Greece before being knocked out of the tournament after a defeat to host Portugal.
Russia is coached by Guus Hiddink, a Dutchman who has led every team he's coached at a major championship out of the group phase.
"We have to worry about our own game. We shouldn't be worried about our rival," Silva said. "The most important thing is us."
Aragones has a full roster after Sergio Garcia returned from a quadriceps problem to train with the team for the first time since it arrived at the small moutainside village outside Innsbruck.
The 69-year-old Aragones led the Spanish through some light training in the morning, with the drills sometimes looking closer to breakdancing.
"That's worth a photo!" yelled one spectator.
The sight of Fabregas shadow boxing with Carles Puyol was enough to draw two young girls on horseback over to the fence to watch.


Updated : 2021-06-17 04:56 GMT+08:00