Spain confident of ending title drought

Vienna, June 27:

Spain don’t think the absence of injured striker David Villa will stop them winning the nation’s first tournament in 44 years when they take on Germany in the European Championship final.

Midfielder Xabi Alonso said on Friday that Spain have such depth of talent on the bench that losing Villa -- the tournament’s top scorer with four goals -- isn’t going to hurt the team’s chances.

“I don’t think it will be a big problem for us,” said Xabi Alonso, a second-half substitute in Spain’s 3-0 semi-final win over Russia on Thursday. “Whoever is coming from the bench

is doing a great job and that is as important as who is starting.”

Villa, who’s scored the only hat-trick at Euro 2008 against Russia in Spain’s 4-1 win in the group stage two weeks ago, accepts he will miss the final after pulling a hamstring muscle while taking a free kick in the first half at Ernst Happel Stadium. “I’m a little sad that I won’t be there to take part, but it’s better that a teammate who is fit plays instead of me, particularly as my injury has left me limping quite badly,” Villa said.

Coach Luis Aragones brought on Cesc Fabregas to boost Spain’s midfield, leaving Fernando Torres as the sole attacker. The move paid off, with Spain scoring three goals in the second half, two of them set up by Fabregas.

“We are delighted and pleased with the performance,” Alonso said. “The result was brilliant. Hopefully on Sunday, we will repeat another performance like that. Let’s hope we can play a good match and lift the cup, which would be historic.”

Spain have only won one major title: the 1964 European Championship. They reached the final of the same tournament 20 years later, but lost to France.

Germany, on the other hand, have been crowned European champions three times and world champions another three. Furthermore, Spain have only beaten Germany once in seven competitive matches, with four victories for the Germans and two draws.

“They know how to win tournaments, they know how to play these games and we know we have be careful because they are the favourites,” Torres said.

The Liverpool striker isn’t having a great tournament. He has only scored one goal — in the group stage against Sweden — and was replaced by Dani Guiza in the second half on Thursday after missing a string of chances. Guiza scored Spain’s second goal just four minutes after coming on, but refused to speculate on whether he would take Torres’ spot in the lineup.

“It would be a dream to play the final with the national team,” Guiza said on Friday. “But it’s the coach who makes the decisions.”