Torres and Alsonso hopeful for Spanish success

LTorres in training with Spainiverpool forward Fernando Torres says he’s hopeful his Spanish team-mates can go all the way and win a major tournament for only the second time in their history.

Despite going into most tournaments amongst the favourites, they have never achieved anything higher than fourth place in World Cup and have won just one European Championship, 44 years ago. They’ve started preparations slowly compared to other sides too, building up their training regime gradually and only starting their pre-tournament friendlies on Saturday with the visit of Peru.

But Torres still feels they can go far: “We are the last to start but I hope we will be standing at the last.”

Torres got 24 league goals for Liverpool in his first season, a record for an overseas player in a debut season, and hopes to take that form into the tournament. His popularity amongst Liverpool supporters is massive; the speed with which he’s become so popular is probably close to a record too.

The Torres song, to the tune of “Johnny comes marching home”, is becoming more and more well known to non-Liverpool fans, and with the release of a viral comedy video from Nike, showing the song being sung in Spanish (the lyrics forced to fit in with the tune) and Scousers trying to learn the language of their hero, it’s likely to be stuck in the heads of even more people before long.

It also represents quite fairly where much of the Red support will be going on Merseyside for Euro 2008.

After that game with Peru in Huelva in Southern Spain, Torres and his team-mates will take on the USA in Santander on June 4th before heading for their base in Austria.

Xabi Alonso is still strongly linked with a move away from Anfield and although he would prefer to stay on Merseyside with his wife and new son his agent seems to have been given some encouragement to discuss a transfer with Juventus. Estimates on how much Juve have offered and are prepared to pay have varied, but Rafa Benítez is believed to be demanding £16m before he would consider the sale. Some reports suggest Juve are doing what Liverpool reportedly did with their early moves to sign Gareth Barry from Aston Villa by offering players in exchange.

Speaking about Spain’s aims for Euro 2008, Xabi played down their chances of success: “We don’t have a reason to declare ourselves favourites – other sides have shown themselves to be more effective.”

That said, Xabi feels it’s time the nation started to show what they are capable of: “We are in the European Championship, so it is time to start winning. Spain haven’t reached the final since 1984 and before that it was 1964, so it has been a while. Other than that we have not even come close. Will this be our year? I certainly hope so.”

Coach Luis Aragones says the squad remind him of their last successful national side: “This squad lacks nothing in character and we share the winning mentality of the 1964 side.”