Spain's Aragones: Coming second not good enough

Spain coach Luis Aragones said nothing but victory would be good enough in Sunday's Euro 2008 final against Germany, dpa reported.

"Nobody remembers the guy that comes second," he said on the eve of the game.

"Sometimes people speak of those that are nearly there. To be nearly the champions is not enough. A final - you've to win it because the ones that come second have nothing."

Aragones is hoping to lead Spain to a first title since winning the European Championships in 1964, before he steps down from the job that he took on after Euro 2004.

He indicated that Valencia striker David Villa would be absent as a result of an injury suffered in the semi-final victory over Russia.

Villa's absence "will have an influence," he said.

"We will be able less to come to the penalty area, but it will help us to be stronger in midfield. I haven't decided anything yet, and perhaps we will have two forwards who can show they have goals in their legs."

Germany, meanwhile, could be without captain Michael Ballack, who is being treated for a calf injury.

"Ballack is a great player, no doubt about it, but this German team will fill (Ballack's absence)," Aragones said.

"Whoever comes up will run even more. He is a great player, but a great player can have a bad day. My concern is the 11 who come on the field, because we are talking about the 23 best German players and the 23 best Spanish players. If Ballack does not play or Villa does not play, whoever comes in will have to do better."

Aragones said that Germany were physically strong and dangerous from set pieces.

"They are tall and stronger on high balls, and that is where we are going to suffer a bit more. We are going to try to buy a ladder or something," he said.

However, Germany would have some concerns: "The football we play, with the ball on the ground, can cause problems for them."

Germany don't play Spain's brand of flowing football.

"But they counterattack with speed," Aragones said. "And we have to know how to cover and stop it, because if we don't it might be complicated for us."

Spanish captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas said that Germany "are a very strong team physically, very good on the high balls. But we have our own virtues. We play the ball on the ground."

Sunday's final was an opportunity for Spain to break the "horrible statistic" of not having won a major title since lifting the Henri Delaunay Trophy 44 years ago, the Real Madrid goalkeeper said.

"We haven't won an international title for a very long time. We came close 20 years ago (before losing in the Euro final to France) but we didn't manage it," he said.

Aragones, who has been reportedly lined up to coach Turkish side Fenerbahce, said he was stepping down after the tournament after four years in charge "because nothing has been done for me to stay."

"Nobody asked me anything, so I decided I will be going, and that's it, and now there is no way back. I have nothing to explain. It is very simple," he said.

"I have had four years defending my country. To stop defending my country will bring some feelings of nostalgia, perhaps, but I will continue to work in football because I consider I have to work."

Defender Carles Puyol praised Aragones, 70, who was the oldest coach in the tournament.

"For me he has shown us the way," Puyol said. "We are all with him. We have gone through difficult moments when we have both been criticized."

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