Monday, June 9, 2008

Fabregas Now A 'Great European Player'


Arsenal.com, the official website of the Gunners, for whom Cesc Fabregas has become a pivotal player, has been asking reporters from each of the countries who will have Arsenal players involved at Euro 2008, to assess the Gunners concerned.

And Inigo Gurruchaga of Spanish newspaper El Correo spoke to the website about midfielder Fabregas.

Asked what the perception of Fabregas was in his native Spain, Gurruchaga replied: "There has been a real transformation of this young guy from a promising player into a great European player and certainly one of the best Spanish players."

He added: "From last summer to this one, or the last couple of seasons, people are no longer saying that perhaps Fabregas will be useful, now people are relying on him to do a heavy workload, to take the team on his shoulders."

Nevertheless, Fabregas himself said this week, ahead of the Euro 2008 kick-off, that he was not sure of his starting place in the Spain side, and Gurruchaga echoed this when he said: "I am not sure whether Fabregas will be one of the first names on the team-sheet because Spain has the same problem they had at the World Cup in 2006. They have so much quality in midfield but they have to find the right balance."

Gurruchaga criticised Spain's team manager, Luis Aragones, saying he had been unable to solve that problem, and had "made a mess" of the World Cup 2006 quarter-final against France.

"In the first group game they won 4-1 and the combination of Marcos Senna and Xabi Alonso worked well. Everyone was enthusiastic, because the Spanish press is like the English press, they said 'now we are going to beat everybody'. But Luis never played the same combination. Fabregas came into the team and suddenly all the technical players played together, it was seen as a very risky strategy. Spain basically said 'we will play our game' so they had Alonso, Xavi and Fabregas, and that's one reason why France beat Spain."

Asked whom he thought Aragones would select, Gurruchaga replied: "I think he has to have Senna and Xabi Alonso or Senna and Fabregas and I think that is the big question. He has to play a player who can help recover the ball alongside Fabregas or Alonso because that has worked very well in my opinion. It works for other teams with Javier Mascherano at Liverpool and Mathieu Flamini or Gilberto at Arsenal.

"What I will say in favour of Fabregas is that he can be useful on the right or the left too. He has more pace than Alonso. I don't know what I would choose, it is a difficult one because you have to get the balance right, but it is a happy dilemma for the manager."

When Arsenal.com asked Gurruchaga how important Fabregas had been in Spain's qualifying campaign, he replied: "He has been a regular, in terms of minutes played he has featured more than Alonso.

"Senna is only just coming back to the Spanish team now while David Albelda was in great turmoil at Valencia, and both are good recovery players. Ruben Baraja is over the hill now in terms of pace and age, but Albelda has been crucial for Spain in terms of recovering the ball. But he wasn't playing for Valencia because of a dispute so that helps Fabregas in terms of being a regular at Euro 2008."

Can Spain win the competition? According to Gurruchaga, everyone knows that Spain are capable of winning Euro 2008.

"There can always be a surprise but if Spain are there then they can win it. They need to get it together in the short time you have at a major tournament, you have to get a good result at the beginning and get into tune, but everyone knows Spain have the quality if they get into the groove.

"If they get over-excited, if there are changes in the team, tensions in the camp or the manager is angry with players... all of these things can stop them, but everyone who knows anything about football knows that Spain can do it. They have failed constantly to prove themselves beyond the quarter-finals but this could be their year."

Asked if the Spanish team are stronger than they were at the 2006 World Cup, he told Arsenal.com: "I am not sure if they are better than two years ago.

"Torres is a better player, he is more experienced now, he is a grown-up. Xavi's quality has not been as good this season but he is a top Barcelona player. Fabregas is better than in 2006, Senna is a good player, Ramos in defence and Casillas in goal are still strong. There is no Raul, despite Madrid's players pressing for it, so it is a younger squad but we will wait and see."

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