Spain looks to win football gold at London Games

AP, Saturday 7 Jul 2012

Spain, amid a major winning streak, replaces player ahead of Olympic games that start 27 July

Spain players celebrate winning Euro 2012 title (Photo: Reuters)

Spain wants to follow up its European Championship victory by winning football gold at the London Olympics.

The World Cup champions won a third straight major title on Sunday after defeating Italy in the Euro 2012 in the final in Kiev, Ukraine.

That triumph is providing extra incentive for the Olympic squad.

"It would be nice to [win the games] after all they have achieved," Spain forward Iker Muniain said on Friday as the squad prepared for the Olympics that run 27 July to 13 August. "We're starting an adventure that we're very motivated to get started on and finish with a medal."

If Spain manages to win the men's Olympic final on 11 August at Wembley Stadium, it would become only the fourth team to hold both the World Cup and an Olympic title simultaneously, after Uruguay, Italy and West Germany.

"We're young and we'll go into the competition with the same motivation as them," said Spain goalkeeper David de Gea, adding that their triumphs put them under pressure to at least reach the Olympic final.

"They achieved something historic and there are a lot of expectations on us now, but it won't be as easy as people think," De Gea said. "There are a lot of games, so we just have to take it game by game, see how strong our rivals are and hopefully get to the final."

Spain coach Luis Milla said the Euro 2012 victory is a great source of inspiration for his players on an Olympic squad that includes three players from the winning team - Juan Mata, Javi Martinez and Jordi Alba.

Milla called up Real Sociedad midfielder Asier Illarramendi to replace injured Barcelona player Thiago Alcantara for the games. The creative midfielder has been a regular in Barcelona's team and helped Spain win the European Under-21 championship last year to qualify for the Olympics.

Milla said Illarramendi is a good replacement.

"We've got to change our thinking now, there are other players here now," Milla said.

Spain's preparations include friendlies against Senegal on 13 July and Mexico on 18 July. The team will then travel to Glasgow to open its Olympic campaign against Japan on 26 July. Honduras and Morocco are Spain's other opponents in Group D.

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