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The Barcelona duo have been ruled out of the tournament and the goalkeeper feels they will be sorely missed because of their experience and influence in the dressing room

SPAIN
GROUP C
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
P
PTS
 SPAIN 8 24
 CZECH REPUBLIC
8 13
 SCOTLAND 8 11
 LITHUANIA 8 5
 LIECHTENSTEIN 8 4

Victor Valdes has admitted that the unavailability of David Villa and Carles Puyol for Euro 2012 is a major blow for Spain, given what both men offer on and off the field.

La Furia Roja's all-time record goalscorer failed to recover in time from the fractured tibia he suffered last December, while the veteran defender was forced to undergo knee surgery last month.

Their absences will be keenly felt according to Valdes, who believes his Barcelona colleagues will be sorely missed by Spain in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

"They are two very important losses because of their importance to the team in terms of the amount of international matches that they have played and how much they have contributed in recent years," the goalkeeper told BBVA.com. "They are also very important in the daily group."

Despite their no-show at the tournament, Spain are being widely tipped to become the first nation on the continent to successfully defend their title.

However, Valdes insists Vicente Del Bosque's men are not thinking that far ahead, as their sole focus remains Sunday's Group C opener against Italy.

"All the teams that are here are great teams in their own right and everyone will stand up," the Blaugrana shot stopper reasoned.

"Now we must go step by step. Our first rival is Italy and we will try to beat him and then look to the next game.

"Yes, it is true that Spain are one of the teams to beat because we are the champions of the world and also because of our footballing philosophy."

Valdes is likely to have to play second fiddle to Spain captain Iker Casillas for the duration of the tournament but he is not envious of his Real Madrid rival taking goal.

"I have nothing but praise for his career, in terms of what I have seen from working with him day after day and also when I have had to face him," he added.

Spain's match-up with Italy is scheduled to kick off at 18:00CET.

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