REIGNING WORLD AND world champions Spain go into Euro 2012 as one of the favourites but it’s a tag the players would rather do without, defender Sergio Ramos says.
“We don’t really like being given this role,” he said at the squad’s training camp in the alpine resort of Schruns, Austria yesterday.
“We’re aware that everyone sees us as favourites, since we won the World Cup and the Euro but you can’t live in the past. We need to prove ourselves every day and start again from scratch.”
In their first Group C match on 10 June, Spain will come up against 2006 world champions Italy, before also facing Ireland and Croatia.
“I don’t think you can underestimate anyone,” Ramos continued. “In this kind of competition, any team can create a surprise. That’s why you have to take everyone seriously because any team, maybe lesser known ones than Germany or the Netherlands, can sneak into the semi-final. So you have to take it step by step with a lot of calm.”
With Barcelona captain Carles Puyol and prolific striker David Villa injured, Spain will be missing two players whose performances were crucial to the squad’s 2010 World Cup and 2008 European championship wins.
“It’s always rather sad news when these players who make a difference and are important for their club and for the national team are not here,” noted Ramos. “We will miss them both. But it’s also true that nobody is indispensable.
“We are lucky to have a great number of Spanish players who can make a difference and want a place in the squad.”
Coach Vicente del Bosque called up many new names to the team’s Austrian training camp, as stars from Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao were unable to attend due to Friday’s Copa del Rey final.
He was expected to give his final list for the Euro on Sunday.
The European Championship in Poland and Ukraine could be La Roja’s chance to make it into the record books, by becoming the first nation ever to win three major international competitions in a row.
“We want to make history, to do something nobody has ever done before: to be European champions, world champions and European champions again,” said Ramos. ”We’re looking forward to this tournament with a lot of hope.”