Saturday, June 07, 2008

Carragher: Spain Do Not Have The Pace To Win

Jaime Carragher has revealed that he has told his Spanish team-mates that he is not expecting them to win Euro 2008 because of the lack of pace in Luis Aragonés' team.

The Liverpool defender explained that he made no bones about his lack of faith in la Selección and explained that to Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa and Pepe Reina.

Instead, the England international is backing France or Italy to take the glory in Austria and Switzerland this summer.

"For me it's the same two usual contenders: France and Italy," he told LFC Magazine. "I'm always a big admirer of the French. They have a lot of players with African origins who have learned to play football in France and that's a really good combination.
"They always have plenty of pace in their team too. That's a huge advantage, especially when teams get tired due to the heat and with so many games in a short space of time.

"I always tell the Spanish lads there's not enough pace in the team. Obviously they've got Fernando Torres but apart from him there is no-one else really with that level of speed you need.

"They also lack something in terms of strength. At least that's what I tell them all the time. I'm sure they'll be out to prove me wrong but I don't think it will happen."

Despite not believing that the Spain team can triumph, Carragher does think that Torres can enhance his reputation even further at the tournament.

"I'm sure Fernando will be one of the favourites to be top scorer at Euro 2008," he added.

"He's probably the top striker in the world at the moment and will go into the tournament full of confidence."

Aston Villa's Martin O'Neill Resigned To Losing Gareth Barry To Liverpool

Martin O’Neill has reportedly admitted defeat after weeks spent trying to fend off Liverpool in their attempts to sign his captain Gareth Barry.

Despite seeing his club come sixth in the league last season and qualify for the Intertoto Cup, it is understood that Barry has become increasingly determined to perform at Champions League level, especially after playing, and captaining, England in Trinidad. Performing at the highest plateau in Europe is a pre-requisite, he believes, for carving out a long-term international role.

As such, the chances of Barry remaining at Villa Park are looking progressively slim. O’Neill recently played down Villa’s immediate chances of reaching Champions League – a thinly veiled acceptance that the club and Barry’s most pressing ambitions no longer dovetail. Villa will demand more than the £10 million players-plus-cash deal that Rafael Benitez offered last month, with their asking price said to be in the region of £14 million.

Liverpool, for their part, have begun clearing the decks ahead of Barry’s arrival. Xavi Alonso has been given permission to move to Juventus, although negotiations have been beset by Liverpool’s failure to find common ground with the Italian club over their method of payment. The Turin club are demanding that they be allowed to pay the £16 million fee in instalments over three years.

However, the Liverpool board desperately need to free up accessible cash to fund the Barry move. Benitez is currently trying to offload Peter Crouch to Portsmouth for £10 million, although that deal is also proving harder to bring to conclusion than first thought. Benitez has instead proposed sending Crouch to Villa, a suggestion given short shrift by the 6ft 7in striker.

Finally, Liverpool are expected to firm up their deal with Italian defender Andrea Dossena today ahead of his wedding at the weekend. The Udinese player will arrive on Merseyside for the tune of £7 million.

Liverpool Linked To Valencia's David Villa And David Silva

Liverpool have been put on alert after Valencia revealed the club will listen to “serious” offers for David Villa and David Silva.

Spain striker Villa has been linked to a host of top clubs across Europe, including the Reds, while midfielder Silva is also being monitored by a host to English sides.

An exodus of Valencia’s top players has been predicted as the club look to solve some of the financial trouble caused by the sizeable pay-off to sacked coach Ronald Koeman and problems with the construction of a new stadium.

“For us they (Villa and Silva) are fundamental players but it’s not down to me to say who plays and how,” said president Agustin Morera.

“If very serious offers come in they will be looked at if (technical secretary Juan Gines) Sanchez and (head coach Unai) Emery think it’s convenient.

“If not they’ll say that these players can’t leave because they are important. We’ll do what’s best for the club.”

Torres Desperate For Euro Silverware

Spain striker Fernando Torres is eyeing Euro 2008 glory to help him get over his Champions League semi-final heartbreak with Liverpool.

Torres came within touching distance of capping a memorable first season at Anfield with a Champions League final appearance, but agonizingly missed out after a 4-3 aggregate loss to Chelsea in the last four.

That meant Torres, despite netting 33 competitive goals following his big-money move from Atletico Madrid, ended his maiden campaign at Liverpool without any major honors.

Liverpool's loss could be Spain's gain though, with the 24-year-old hitman desperate to win some silverware this summer.

I have a lot of confidence following this season, and with a lot of desire to be able to finish the season with a title,'' he said.

The semi-finals of the Champions League have left a bad taste in the mouth, we were close to winning the Champions League and you could taste what it could be like to win such an important title.

It was not to be though and now this (Euro 2008) is the last opportunity to finish with a title of this nature.

It will be what I have always dreamed of - a great season and a great end.'' Opinion is divided on Spain’s chances of winning this summer s European Championships.

While few doubt they have the ability and the players to walk off with the big prize, Spain's history and reputation for underachieving on the biggest stages casts a heavy shadow over the team.

The Iberian nation have only conquered Europe once in their history, when they won on home soil in 1964, and since then have only managed to get beyond the quarter-finals on one occasion.

Spain are still among the favorites to win the title this summer, but Torres does not believe they are top-dogs heading into the competition.

I don't think so. The favorites are those who have shown that they can win, who have done it many times. France, Germany, Italy - they have won several tournaments and they are the ones who have to take this tag,'' Torres said.

I don’t think being favorites does anything other than means you have added pressure and if at the end you do not win there are more critics."

Torres Tells Liverpool's Feuding Owners To Start Spending

Fernando Torres wants to be surrounded by more stars at Liverpool, urging feuding owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. to start spending more.

"In order to compete with Manchester United and Chelsea, if we can't keep up with them economically, then we have to get it absolutely right in the transfer market,'' the Spain striker was quoted as saying in an interview published on journalist Guillem Balague's Web site.

"It's clear that they have a lot of 20 or 25 million pound (US$40 or 50 million; £25-32 million) players, and that difference is what separates us in the league table,'' Torres said.”I hope that the club does what needs to be done and we can quickly catch them up.''

Liverpool finished fourth in Torres' debut season in the Premier League and was ousted in the Champions League semifinals by Chelsea.

The season was marred by a dispute between the club's American owners, who have struggled to agree on anything since January and have often criticized the other through media interviews.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard blamed the rift for hindering the Reds' bid to win the English title for the first time since 1990.

"It may have had more of an effect upon my teammates,'' Torres said.”But the truth is, that between the language and the fact that I don't pay much attention to that stuff, or to any of the problems, that it hasn't affected me.''

Torres witnessed turmoil during his Atletico Madrid career.

One training session in 2006 was interrupted by fans invading the pitch to demand the firing of the coach and club president. A potential move from the Vicente Calderon stadium, which sits on prime real estate land, caused further ructions in the boardroom.

"At Atletico Madrid I saw how even smaller problems can affect everyone at the club, right down to the last employee, and that can be damaging,'' Torres said. "This (Liverpool) is a big club that knows how to isolate you from those issues in order to stay competitive.''

When Torres returns from the European Championship, he is expecting a tougher season at Liverpool after 24 league goals in his first season.

"The second season is always the more difficult,'' Torres said.”People know all about me now, although I know more about my opponents as well, and I know how to take advantage of their weaknesses.

"But there's no doubt that I will have to account for the fact that I am better known from now on.''