Iker Casillas says the Spain team must "dance to the same tune" when they kick off their Group D campaign against Russia at the Stadion Tivoli Neu in Innsbruck.
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Iker Casillas says the Spain team must "dance to the same tune" when they kick off their Group D campaign against Russia at the Stadion Tivoli Neu.
Assuring the assembled media that his side would be going for the victory in their Group D opener, the Real Madrid CF goalkeeper also admitted La Furia Roja would do their best to learn from past mistakes. "Sure, if we're trailing 3-0 at half-time and end up with a draw then it will be a good result," he said. "But we're going to try and win this game. We're not saying that qualification will be assured just by winning our first game. You saw what happened in Portugal [at UEFA EURO 2004™], we won our first game [against Russia] and then we were knocked out."
Russia are coached by Guus Hiddink, a man who knows the Spanish set-up all too well having had coaching spells at Real Madrid CF, Valencia CF and Real Betis Balompié. For Casillas, this represents a definite advantage to Spain's opponents. "There's no doubt that having a knowledge of our football is great for them," he conceded. "We'll always have respect for a team that is managed by Guus Hiddink, he's done well almost everywhere he's been. His teams are always there or thereabouts and they're always fighting. They will be very dangerous."
First goal pivotal
It was an assessment backed up by midfielder Xavi Hernández, who added: "They're a physically tough team. They are very strong, direct, and will try to attack at speed. This is not going to be an easy game. We're going to come up against a team with a similar philosophy to ours – to dominate possession and play one-touch football." The FC Barcelona man believes the first goal could prove decisive, allowing Spain to come out of their shell – or else sending them scurrying back under it. "It's always important to go ahead, but especially so in a tournament as important as this one," he said. "It's self-explanatory. For confidence and to retain our composure, we need to take the lead."