Euro 2012: Spain must rediscover best form, says Xabi Alonso
Xabi Alonso admits holders Spain must rediscover their best form if they want to win the European championship
Xabi Alonso insisted Spain must rekindle their best form if they want to win Euro 2012 after the holders edged to victory over Croatia on Monday.
Substitute Jesús Navas completed a sweeping Spanish counter-attack to secure three points, which ensured Vicente Del Bosque’s side finished in top spot ahead of Italy in Group C.
Spain, who won the last European championship with a 1-0 win against Germany in the final, have been below par so far, drawing with Italy and struggling to beat Slaven Bilic’s side.
And Real Madrid midfielder Alonso acknowledged Spain will need to improve and replicate their form which helped them win the title in 2008 if Del Bosque’s squad are to retain their crown.
“Clearly, the important thing was to advance as group winners,” said Alonso.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy because Croatia are a good team and had chances to go through, too. We managed to keep a clean sheet despite their efforts, and at the end of the day, the goal calmed our nerves.”
“We have achieved great things in the not-so-distant past, but we also struggled a lot, you cannot forget that. If we want to repeat that [success], it’ll definitely be another hard task.”
Spain captain Iker Casillas heaped praise on Croatia for pushing the holders until the very end, with the Madrid shot-stopper making an impressive second-half save to deny Ivan Rakitic giving Bilic’s side the lead.
“They made it very difficult for us to create chances, they defended very well. In the end we were lucky, scoring late on. It felt like a weight off our shoulders,” said the Spanish goalkeeper.
“I was lucky in one situation that could have put us in trouble [Rakitic’s chance] but I am happy the team managed to qualify for the next round.”