Spain still the team to beat says Alonso

13 November 2011 01:16

Xabi Alonso insists Spain are still the team to beat at Euro 2012 despite his team's 1-0 friendly defeat against England at Wembley.

For once Vicente del Bosque's collection of stars failed to shine on Saturday as they slipped to a second defeat in 10 matches and their first loss against England since 2001.

It was a frustrating experience for Alonso as Spain dominated possession for long periods, but lacked the cutting edge to break down a resolute England defence.

Yet Real Madrid midfielder Alonso is adamant the result will have no long-term impact going into next year's Euro 2012 finals.

"We could expect this kind of performance. We had control and most of the possession but it was difficult for us to create chances because they were defending so deep," Alonso said.

"I don't think it will have a big impact on us. The approach for us is always the same. We have a clear idea how we want to play and we were unlucky to lose here.

"They were lucky to score from a set-piece but we have to perform better in those situations."

Spain have lost four friendlies since winning the World Cup, but swept through their Euro qualifying campaign and Alonso admits it is harder to get the competitive juices flowing in relatively unimportant matches.

He puts the defeat down to that lack of motivation and one moment of sloppy concentration at the set-piece that led to Frank Lampard's 49th minute winner.

"In the friendlies you have to try to be as intense as the competitive games but most of the time it is not possible," he said.

"We have seen that in the competitive games we have won them all and in the friendlies we have had a few poor results.

Since being crowned European and then world champions, Spain have grown accustomed to teams setting out to disrupt their rhythm and Alonso wasn't surprised to see Fabio Capello send out England in a defensive formation.

"I wasn't really surprised by England's approach. Most of the teams play really deep against us. We saw that in the World Cup," he said.

"We can say teams respect us and defend deep, but that is part of football. We have to expect that and deal with it.

"If we score first most of the job is done but we didn't get the goal."

Although Spain are clearly head and shoulders above the majority of their international rivals, this result showed that no team is unbeatable.

Former Liverpool star Alonso acknowledges that Spain musn't rest on their laurels and he added: "We had some chances at the end but we were disappointed by the result and we have to learn from this.

"We have achieved great things but that doesn't count for the future. It is a fresh start and we are focused on the future."

Source: AFP