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Brazilian-born Senna set for midfield role with Spain in Group D opener against Russia

Brazilian-born Senna set for midfield role with Spain in Group D opener against Russia

If any player has the right to compare Spain with five-time World Cup champion Brazil, it's Marcos Senna.
The Brazilian-born Spaniard is a near certainty to start Spain's European Championship opener against Russia on Tuesday, following an excellent season in which he helped lead Villarreal to its best league position in its 85-year history.
"Our style is similar to Brazil, we're only missing the titles," said Senna, whose football boots feature a tiny Spanish flag. "From the midfield to the front there is so much quality, very few (teams) have such quality. There are more potent teams, but none with more quality."
The Rio de Janeiro native moved to Villarreal in 2002 after a successful stint in Brazil marked by a league title, two Paulistas and a World Club Cup with Corinthians. Senna took on Spanish citizenship after Spain coach Luis Aragones told him he wanted to include him in his 2006 World Cup plans.
Senna played in three of Spain's four tournament games, including the 3-1 second round loss to France.
"The last World Cup was used for experience and will help us improve," Senna said. "It's logical that there are doubts because we always look set to make it and never do, but we want to win and the experience of all of these players gives us an extra lift."
That experience means Spain is staying focused on its Group D opener, even with the added benefit of not having to worry about missing playmakers Pavel Pogrebnyak and Andrei Arshavin. It also faces Sweden and defending champion Greece.
"In a competition like the Euro, every rival is difficult and injuries are not such a factor. Russia will be a difficult rival with injuries or without," he said.
Aragones hand-picked Senna to play the holding midfielder's role, a defensive position that is not an easy spot to win on a crowded roster of talented midfielders. The 31-year-old's emergence has pushed Liverpool's Xabi Alonso to the bench and denied rookie Ruben de la Red of Getafe a chance.
"I have to protect the defense and cover when the fullbacks come up the wings," Senna said. "I'm here to do what (Aragones) asks."
Senna, who has 11 caps, has been part of Spain's current 16-match unbeaten run, which includes a six-match winning streak with victories over World Cup champion Italy and finalist France.
"I'm not surprised if I start (against Russia)," Senna said from Spain's glacier-side training base. "The competition in Spain is very long and I think I have been in good form all year. When Luis has needed me to fill this position, I think I have done it well."
Senna, who has a powerful long-range shot, scored four goals in 34 league matches as Villarreal finished second to Spanish champion Real Madrid. One of those goals was highlight reel stuff, when the Villarreal captain noticed the goalkeeper off his line and scored from just inside the halfway mark for a 1-0 win against Real Betis.
"Prestige as a player, and being recognized," is what playing in Spain has brought Senna. "In Brazil I didn't have the opportunity. It opened the doors for me and I'll identify with Spain in everything."


Updated : 2021-04-21 23:14 GMT+08:00