Luis Garcia is looking forward to Spain’s World Cup campaign with cautious optimism. Spain are alongside Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in Group H, and to many people that would look like a fairly easy group to progress from. Garcia is very much taking the philosophy of Liverpool boss Rafa Benítez with him to Germany though – confidence should not lead to complacency.
Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Luis says, “This is the World Cup. Nobody should be taken lightly. From these teams come good players. Ukraine have Shevchenko, one of the best strikers around. And maybe there are some we don’t know too much about. That is a danger also.”
So for Luis it’s all about getting the balance right in terms of attitude going into each game: “We must respect our opponents and if we do that we have a strong chance of qualifying. We qualified for the World Cup without losing a game so we have justified confidence in our abilities.”
Spain always look dangerous going into a tournament, but seem to struggle one way or another once the games start to take place. The fact they always look to be full of promise leads to high hopes of success back home, but the 27-year-old is happy enough about that: “It’s true that in previous World Cups there has been a lot of expectation with Spain but that is something we have to live with. It’s positive in a way because it shows the country believes in you and is behind you, and so this time we must try to give them something to cheer about.”
Garcia says the relatively young squad should give them a chance of success this time round, especially when mixed with the experience of older (and odder looking) heads like Carlos Puyol: “We have a good group of players whose average is age is around 24, which has to be good in a World Cup, and we have experience where it counts at the heart of defence in Carlos Puyol of Barcelona.”
Pepe Reina and Xabi Alonso are also with Luis in the squad and he says that helps a great deal in terms of getting team spirit in order: “It’s great for me to have my Liverpool team-mates with me in the squad – there is already a togetherness. Both Cesc (Fabregas) and Reyes have played for two years in the Premiership, which we know is one of the toughest in the world. To play in this league you must be not only strong physically but also mentally. They have both displayed that. Reyes has great pace and Cesc just gets better. They are worth their places in the squad.”
Garcia says he enjoys playing for Liverpool alongside captain Steven Gerrard, who he expects to have a good tournament: “Playing alongside Steven Gerrard is fantastic. He sets the standard for others to follow. He will do ever so well for England in the World Cup. People will see just how good he is.”
Garcia’s now hoping that he can turn himself from squad member to regular starter, building on his achievements during qualifying: “For me, it’s great to be in the squad but that is just the beginning. Now I must prove my worth in the team. I scored a hat-trick in the qualifiers, but now I must score more.”