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Greece is the word for Reina

Were he the superstitious sort, Spain goalkeeper Pepe Reina would not have too far to look for inspiration as he warms up for the meeting with Greece in Salzburg.

Spain's Pepe Reina speaks to the press
Spain's Pepe Reina speaks to the press ©Getty Images

Many players believe in superstitions or rigidly follow set routines before big games and, were he so inclined, Spain goalkeeper Pepe Reina would not have far to look for an omen ahead of the concluding Group D game against Greece in Salzburg.

'Lovely name'
The 25-year-old's daughter – who was happily playing at the side of Spain's Neustift training ground a few days ago – is named Grecia, Greece in Spanish, and her father, likely to make his competitive debut at the Stadion Salzburg Wals-Siezenheim, is hoping that brings him luck. "Even though my daughter is called Grecia I'm still going to have to give it my all to beat the country she's named after, if I'm playing," said Reina. "I guess it's a pretty big coincidence that we're here playing Greece again four years on after the last EURO and with my little girl having visited the training camp last week. It's a lovely name and that's why we chose it but all of us will be playing for our country's pride if chosen."

Strong indication
Luis Aragonés's side are already assured first place in the section thanks to wins against Russia and Sweden and the coach has given a strong indication that Reina will win his tenth cap against the 2004 champions – although the Liverpool FC custodian knows better than to be overconfident having missed out to Santiago Cañizares in Spain's third group game at the FIFA World Cup finals two years ago. "In the end it was hardly a disaster because I was proud to be at the World Cup and Santi had a good game," he said. "But now I'm motivated by the idea of getting the chance to represent my country. I've gained lots of [UEFA] Champions League experience with Villarreal [CF] and Liverpool over the last few years so I'm not nervous, but you learn to treat each game with respect even when winning the group is not dependent on our result. We have to be ready and prove that we are capable of winning."

First goal crucial
Fernando Navarro and Rubén de la Red could also come into the starting lineup as Aragonés looks to rest players ahead of the quarter-finals, and both were keen to emphasise the importance of gaining an early advantage against a Greece side whose title defence ended with defeats against Sweden and Russia. "It's always important if you go ahead but against this team, who have proved they are very solid and hard to break down and are good in the air, it will be more vital," said Navarro. "We're also hard to beat and hard to get the ball from and once we go ahead it's a big advantage." De La Red added: "If you score first against a team like Greece they have to open up and stretch their game and then we can do damage on the counterattack."