Arbeloa: Spain can't be brilliant every time

The Real Madrid full-back has defended La Roja's style of play, and asserted that the public expect too much of the world champions
Spain right-back Alvaro Arbleoa has spoken out against those who have criticised his country's European Championship campaign.

Despite topping a tricky Group C, which also containted Republic of Ireland, Italy and Croatia, La Roja have been widely panned for failing to replicate the flowing football that won them the tournament four years ago.

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However, Arbeloa believes that the public expect too much of his side, and that they are facing tough opposition in every match in Ukraine and Poland.

"All that [debate] speaks volumes about the demands made on Spain," he said according to AS. "People don't seem to realise that in a competition like this the difficulty is huge.

"You can't win every game 3-0, you can't be brilliant every time. The opposition play too but it is as if they don't exist."

"I've played in England, I know what kind of games they like: open, loads of chances. Maybe when people see our type of game, a game defined by control, they find that boring.

"That's normal. I can understand that."

Ahead of Saturday's quarter-final clash with France, Arbleoa spoke about Les Bleus' recent defeat to Sweden, and admitted that he was surprised to see Laurent Blanc's side finish second in Group D.

"I was watching England - Ukraine, not France, because I thought we'd play England. I was surprised that France didn't beat Sweden because they weren't playing for anything.

"But for everyone it's been hard to win; this tournament has been more equal than people expected. It is a pity, I quite fancied England, but it's still a big game. It's going to be very hard."

Arbeloa will be facing Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery on Saturday, and conceded that both players will pose a genuine threat to his nation's defence.

"[Ribery] likes to change position, drop deeper and receive the ball between the lines, come inside as well as take you on outside, swap wings.

"He moves really well, distracting defenders. It's very hard to control him with just one player. He's good at shaking off his markers and really difficult to stop.

"As for Karim, what can I say? He has practically everything. He comes short for the ball, he can hold it up with his back to goal, he combines with team-mates, he can move beyond the defence, lose his marker, he can shoot with both feet, dribble, he's very complete.

"Technically, we could see from the very first day that he was out of the ordinary. You could see that in every session. What's changed is the mentality.

"It's not going to be easy. It never is. No matter what they say."

Spain will play France in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals Saturday at 20:45CET.