Thursday, June 7, 2012

Motta still rates Spain

Italy’s Thiago Motta believes that Spain remain the team to beat at Euro 2012, despite injuries to a number of key players.

David Villa and Carles Puyol will both miss the tournament with injury, while there is a doubt over the fitness of Alvaro Arbeloa ahead of the match against Italy in Gdansk on Sunday.

“I don't believe they are less strong because of their injuries,” said Motta, who plays his club football for Paris Saint-Germain.

“They have had a good, good moment in the last four years, they have won everything. They have lost Villa and Puyol but are still playing at the same level.

“The most important thing as far as we’re concerned is not to worry about them but to play as a team.”

Most of the Spain v Italy betting odds are pointing towards a win for Vicente del Bosque’s all-conquering team, though there is a significant section of punters who believe that the Italians could cause the holders one or two problems.

Meanwhile, English eyes remain focused on Donetsk, the setting for England’s Euro 2012-opening clash with Group D rivals France.

It will be Roy Hodgson’s first competitive match in charge and, given the fickleness of the British tabloid media, the Three Lions’ result against Laurent Blanc’s men could make or break the former West Brom boss’s career as coach of the national team.

Unfortunately for Hodgson, France have the better record from recent head to head matches and most Betfair England v France odds have Les Bleus as favourites to win the game.

Defeat for England will probably mean they will need to win their final two group matches against Sweden and Ukraine to ensure qualification for the quarter-finals, so the stakes could not be much higher.

It promises to be a thrilling journey!

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