Euro 2012: Xavi says Spain have a 'great opportunity' to make history

Euro 2012 final: Italy v Spain

  • Venue: Olympic Stadium, Kiev
  • Date: Sunday, 1 July
  • Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC One HD and full coverage on BBC Radio 5live. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Xavi says Spain have a "great opportunity to make history" as the reigning European and world champions aim for a third tournament triumph.

The Barcelona midfielder is desperate to write his name into the history books, but knows Spain face a difficult task against Italy in Kiev.

"We have achieved great things with the national team," said Xavi.

Spain's path to the final

  • Group C:
  • Spain 1-1 Italy
  • Spain 4-0 Rep of Ireland
  • Spain 1-0 Croatia
  • Quarter-finals:
  • Spain 2-0 France
  • Semi-finals:
  • Spain 0-0 Portugal (Spain win 4-2 on penalties)

"We're in a great generation of players and we have a great opportunity to make history. This is our chance."

Having defeated Germany four years ago, Spain, who overcame the Netherlands to win the World Cup in 2010, will become the first team to retain the European Championship if they beat Italy on Sunday.

Even more important, victory over the Azzurri would make them the first country to win three major international tournaments in a row - and Xavi says Spain are determined to show they are still the team to beat.

"We really want to do well and show people that this team is still hungry to win and that our football is good," he added.

Xavi admitted he was a fan of the approach introduced by coach Italy coach Cesare Prandelli and singled out the Azzurri's Andrea Pirlo for praise.

"A few years ago, football was showing tendencies of becoming more physical and the games more condensed," he said.

"We were very lucky that, although (Spain's) footballers were slightly weaker physically, they were more talented technically.

"That's what we want to do against Italy - play a spectacular game.

Analysis

"Spain have been criticised for being boring during this tournament but I think that is only because they are not playing exactly the way people want to see them play. That drives people to be critical, but I don't think the Spanish players deserve to get any negative comments."

"Players like Pirlo are playing in a similar way, so I'm very happy that the tendency in football now is to try to play and try to attack."

Meanwhile, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque says his side will have to play to their maximum if they are to have any chance of making history in the final.

"We cannot look back, we cannot think history influences anything," he said.

"Italy are four-time world champions. We were in the same group, have similar star players and both had to come through penalties."

Del Bosque, a former Real Madrid player and manager, was in charge of the Spain team that won the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, succeeding Luis Aragones, who coached the team to Euro 2008 success.

Spain's starting XI on Sunday is likely to include at least five players schooled at Barcelona - Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets.

And Del Bosque added that the national team had learnt to translate their success at club level to the international game.

"Our success is not a coincidence and has its foundations in many things - in the structure of our football, in the academies, and in better coaches," Del Bosque told the Spanish football federation website.

"The Spanish clubs are devoting themselves to training youngsters.

"Before we would travel abroad to look at the academies in France, Russia, Germany. Now many of these countries come to see what we are doing in Spain.

"We have put a certain complex regarding Europe behind us and right now we are at the same level as any country in our vicinity."