Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Iniesta dismisses Euro 2008 final memories as Spain prepare for Germany

Andres Iniesta has said Spain's Euro 2008 final victory over Germany will give them no psychological advantage when the sides meet in the last four of the World Cup.

Iniesta was voted the man of the match as Spain overcame Paraguay 1-0 in the Ellis Park Stadium thanks to a late goal from David Villa.

Now they will face the on-song Germans who followed up their 4-1 win over England by thrashing Argentina 4-0 in the quarter-finals.

Barcelona star Iniesta said: "It's the same as the Euro final. We will be playing Germany again.

"But I think it has nothing to do with what happened two years ago. That will have no part to play when we meet.

"Germany have played a brilliant World Cup so far and they have brought in a lot of young players who were not there in 2008.

"They must be tremendously motivated but we are also at the top of our game and keen to progress further."

Iniesta added: "I am sure it will be a match between two sides who enjoy having the ball and it's going to be a beautiful battle.

"We have been following Germany's progress throughout the World Cup and they have done spectacularly well."

Iniesta is proud to be part of the first Spain side to reach the semi-finals of football's biggest tournament.

But he was full of praise for Paraguay who held out until seven minutes from time in a match where both sides had a penalty saved.

He said: "We knew it was going to be difficult as throughout the World Cup Paraguay had made life difficult for all their rivals.

"They gave it everything but we are very proud, very happy to be among the four best teams in the world.

"The team is doing very well. It's a fantastic feeling but the job is not finished yet.

"We are all pleased to have got so far but we will now start focusing on the match with Germany."

Iniesta is adamant that a collective spirit is a major reason for Spain's success.

He said: "I was voted man of match, which makes me very happy, but without my team-mates I would not get these awards.

"It the same with David Villa. He has scored five goals so far but he would say without his team-mates he wouldn't score goals.

"The strength of the team is us playing together and fighting together."

While Villa again grabbed the headlines, goalkeeper and skipper Iker Casillas made an equally telling contribution.

The Real Madrid player denied Oscar Cardozo from the penalty spot - with a little help from Spain number two Pepe Reina - and produced a couple of fine reflex saves.

He said: "The penalty was a pivotal moment and I was fortunate enough to save it.

"To tell the truth I dived that way because I'd been chatting about it with Pepe Reina before the game.

"He said that Cardozo usually hit the ball hard and to his right-hand side. So, it came down to a mix of intuition, good luck and a team-mate's help."

But Liverpool player Reina claimed: "Iker deserves all the credit because he's the one who saved it.

"I don't know if I helped or just confused him. I just mentioned it because that's how Cardozo took a penalty against me for Benfica in a (Europa League) game."

Centre-back Carlos Marchena added: "We've got total faith in him as a keeper because he's very good, and today he proved that emphatically.

Villa said: "Iker, as always, was faultless. We know just how many times he's come to our rescue and how many times he'll do so in the future."

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