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Xavi: Euros harder than World Cup

Midfielder has sights set on third successive tournament triumph

ESPN staff

Xavi is a vital member of Spain's squad

Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez believes the European Championship is harder to win than the World Cup.

World and European champions Spain are looking to complete an unprecedented treble by retaining their European crown in Poland and Ukraine, and Xavi is aware that his nation are the team to beat this summer.

The Barcelona player told El Pais: "I have the feeling that the duty has been completed, that we are in peace. There are no urgencies anymore, no fear of the quarter-finals, no worries.

"The day against Italy (in Euro 2008) changed the dynamic of Spanish football, it was like a liberation. The title then arrived and the World Cup. I want to continue winning, but I feel we are in peace.

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

"The European Championship is harder than the World Cup, more intense. 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."

However, just as much as winning, Xavi stressed his delight at how the Spanish style of play has been adopted across the world and does not think it would be a disaster should they fail to win the Euros for a third time this summer.

He said: "Four years ago we wanted to pass the quarter-final and now we are demanding something which no one has ever achieved? No, the lesson ought to be different.

"We are going to try, with our style, but if we don't achieve it then we will be calm. For no reason would it be a disaster. 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 Netherlands, 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."

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