Date: 3rd June 2012 at 6:27pm
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Xavi Hernandez believes that it is harder to win the European Championship than the World Cup.

Spain kick-off their bid to retain the trophy next Sunday when they face Italy as they attempt to repeat the success that they enjoyed four years ago in Austria.

Winning that title was the catalyst for a golden spell in Spanish football as the old rivalries between Barcelona and Real Madrid was finally put to the side as the trophies piled up.

Despite the loss through injury of Carlos Puyol and David Villa the Spanish squad arrive in Poland as favourites to retain the title but Xavi is wary of a group that also contains Croatia and Ireland.

“The European Championships is harder than the World Cup, more intense,” the midfielder told el Pais. “There are no Cinderellas, in the World Cup, with all respect, you can face Honduras or Saudi Arabia. In the Euros, anyone can beat you.

“Everyone wants to beat the champions. For us it is another game, for our opponent is it the game. Moreover, we are without (David) Villa and (Carles) Puyol.

“Vicente Del Bosque was right to say they are irreplaceable but we will try to compensate for their loss with other people.

“We are going to try, with our style, but if we don’t achieve it then we will be calm. There are seven or eight teams that could win the title, so there would be a lot of disasters this year if that were the case, not everybody can win.

“I can’t remember such an open tournament. There are rivals desperate to win and well-prepared like Holland, who have everything and are a very good team. Then you have France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy and England.

“Moreover though, we have created the idea of wanting to play with the football, not speculating. Now Germany wants the ball, Italy don’t give away areas of the pitch to play in. I think this is more transcendent than winning two titles.”

Spain v Germany 2008 Euro Final: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Puyol, Marchena, Capdevila, Senna, Iniesta, Fabregas (Alonso 63), Xavi, Silva (Santi Cazorla 66), Torres (Guiza 78).
Subs Not Used: Palop, Reina, Albiol, Fernando Navarro, Villa, Sergio Garcia, Arbeloa, Juanito, De la Red.

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