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Fàbregas spells out winning formula

Cesc Fàbregas is determined to produce his Arsenal FC form for Spain and says "confidence, physical fitness and possessing a tough mentality" are keys to victory.

Cesc Fàbregas (right) is not afraid to celebrate goals in training
Cesc Fàbregas (right) is not afraid to celebrate goals in training ©Getty Images

Simplistic and probably inaccurate but an indication that the Spanish football public want to believe that they are in the presence of a boy genius. Not only is the weight of expectation massive, it is also a hindrance to the midfield prodigy being allowed to develop his efficacy at international level. Add the facts that his Arsenal FC team endured an ultimately depressing end to their promising season and that the 21-year-old has had to shake off a painful foot injury, and it is understandable why Fàbregas wants to get down to business against Russia on Tuesday.

Surging enthusiasm
"We are here, hungry and ready," he told euro2008.com. "I believe the keys to winning a tournament are confidence, physical fitness and possessing a tough mentality. Just take a look at nations like France and Italy who regularly win big competitions and you see the key is that they defend well. It's the same at club level with Manchester United [FC] and Arsenal – you build around quality but it's defending and not conceding needless goals which wins you trophies. If Spain can match that then we have ample attacking quality and then we can think about winning the tournament. It's key to start well but in the last [FIFA] World Cup we won the group games and still went home early, so it's a case of keeping concentration and focus from the first to last match."

Competitive edge
Fàbregas is a brilliant football ambassador. Multilingual, studying for a business qualification in his spare time, articulate, clean-cut and successful. But winners are not made of sugar and spice and all things nice. This is a player with a bristling will to win. During Saturday's training he raced on to a loose ball, clipped it viciously past Iker Casillas and punched the air in noisy celebration. When a squad is isolated in a tournament hotel for anything up to four weeks, it can be such tiny moments that cause niggles and resentment but Casillas just acknowledged the quality of his team-mate's clinical work. Everyone knows that this is a special talent. "I think being at Arsenal for so long and learning under Arsène Wenger has given me an extra mental edge and taught me what's important when you are mixing with more experienced and top-quality players who happen to be senior to me," said Fàbregas.

Goal potential
Perhaps the midfielder enjoyed his training-ground finish so much because his main challenge is to begin scoring for Spain. No goals from 26 caps compared with his total of 13 for Arsenal this season alone is a troublesome record. Fàbregas has clear views on the subject. "I hear the same thing all the time and it's not something I like too much," he said. "I'm 21, I want to achieve and I want things to turn out well for Spain. I got my toe to a few chances with Arsenal and they went in, but I don't play so regularly for Spain. I have provided quite a few assists so I'm not going to be negative when there are so many positives."