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Casillas wants Spain to focus on a collective effort against Russia for Euro 2008 opener

Casillas wants Spain to focus on a collective effort against Russia for Euro 2008 opener

The talent Spain has at its disposal for its European Championship opener against Russia on Tuesday means nothing to goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Unless the team can pull together, the captain believes another early exit awaits the perennial underachievers of world football.
"In the Spanish team we have a lot of talented players. But it's a collective effort," Casillas said Monday. "So there's no private thing. This is not (tennis player) Rafa Nadal here. This is a team and we all have to pull in the same direction."
Spain goes into its Group D opener at the Tivoli Neu stadium riding the offensive talents of Fernando Torres and David Villa in attack and a midfield bursting with speedy and creative players. But Spain is expecting a gritty performance from a Russian team without its two key playmakers _ the injured Pavel Pogrebnyak and the suspended Andrei Arshavin. Casillas warned his teammates of being overconfident.
Especially against a team led by coach Guus Hiddink, who was at Real Madrid when Casillas was coming up through the youth academy.
"Anything can happen. We never arrived here thinking we could win the Euro. We'll go out to do the best possible to hopefully get far," the Real Madrid goalkeeper said. "Our objective and idea is to take it step-by-step and have a good group phase.
"We have the talent, the hopes. We just need the luck that we haven't had in the past but hope to have this time."
Casillas is going into his fifth major championship and knows an opening victory is important, but not always enough. Four years ago, Spain opened Euro 2004 with a 1-0 win over Russia but drew 1-1 against eventual champion Greece and then lost to host Portugal 1-0.
"Even winning the first game doesn't qualify you for the next round, we definitely saw it in Portugal four years ago. But winning that game gives you good morale," said the 27-year-old Casillas, who won his second straight Spanish league title at Madrid last month. "So if we can start on the right foot that would be best."
Spain's Group D opponents offer familiarity. The Spanish beat their next opponent, Sweden, in qualifying and could be looking forward to a rematch against Greece to close out the group. But that's still not in sight.
"None of us think we've won a game before stepping on the field," he said.


Updated : 2021-05-06 10:17 GMT+08:00