Spain grow in confidence with Euro 2008 qualification

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MADRID, Nov 18 (Reuters) Spain's emphatic victory over Sweden to qualify for Euro 2008 demonstrated the growing belief in their abilities, the players said.

Luis Aragones's team moved two points clear of Sweden at the top of Group F with a 3-0 win at the Bernabeu yesterday, through goals from Joan Capdevila, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos. It was their third consecutive victory in the group.

''It'll be important to continue with this run of results to be able to enter the finals with a lot of confidence,'' Valencia midfielder David Albelda told reporters.

''We have won games before but not finished with the sensations as positive as those that we have had after our recent victories.'' After a disappointing World Cup in Germany, Spain's consecutive defeats away to Northern Ireland and Sweden at the start of qualifying last year left them with an uphill struggle and put the future of Aragones very much in the spotlight.

Although they only dropped two more points in a 1-1 draw away to Iceland in September, their progress towards qualification only really looked convincing in the 3-1 victory away to Denmark last month and in yesterday's win.

Looking forward to visiting Austria and Switzerland next June, Villarreal left back Capdevila said: ''All we need is a little more belief in our ability and to try to do well, and we could have a good tournament.

''But we don't want to get carried away with ourselves, we need to remain calm. If we don't, we could end up disappointing people which is something that has dogged us of late.'' Aragones, who has endured heavy criticism in the media and from fans during the campaign, has already stated that it is his intention to step down after Euro 2008.

Asked if he would reconsider if Spain won next year's tournament Aragones replied: ''I'm like milk. Once it's gone past its expiry date you can't drink it anymore.'' Spain can secure first place in the group with a win over Northern Ireland in Las Palmas on Wednesday.

Reuters AB RN1944

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