Milla will decide after Euro 2012 which Spain players to pick for Olympics

The likes of Sergio Busquets and Javi Martinez have already claimed that they would like to compete in the London Games this summer, as well as Poland and Ukraine
By Alberto Pinero

Spain Under-23 coach Luis Milla will not decide until after the European Championship which national team players he will call upon for the Olympics.

The likes of Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcantara, Javi Martinez, Iker Muniain and Juan Mata are all eligible for selection for the Games in London, but will only be considered if they are in the right physical condition after their exploits in Poland and Ukraine with Vicente del Bosque's senior side.

"It is a special situation because it's not every year you get to play in the European Championship and the Olympic Games," Milla mused during an interview with "That has not happened for 12 years.

"There is a great excitement in both the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and in the RFEF [Spanish Football Federation], as well as with the players. Those who have an opportunity to double up because of their age are very excited.

"But let's see how the players are in the Euros. We must speak with them after that to see if they are really convinced after the domestic season and the Euros that they are mentally and physically strong enough to come with us.

"The games will be very demanding and if we are only taking 18 players, we need them to be in the best possible condition."

Addressing the nation's hopes of defending their European crown this summer, Milla admitted that the loss of Barcelona captain Carles Puyol to a knee injury was a major blow.

"Puyol is a leader of the national team; there is no getting around that," he conceded.

"But coach Vicente del Bosque has to focus on what he has and he still has great defenders. He should still be able to get the best possible result out of his team."

As for Puyol's club side, Milla has dismissed talk of an end of an era at Camp Nou in light of the Blaugrana's failure to hold onto their Primera Division and Champions League titles this season and the imminent departure of coach Pep Guardiola, who will be replaced at the helm by right-hand man Tito Vilanova.

"I don't think it is a matter of cyclical change," he argued. "Nobody can speak of a change in cycle when Barcelona still have some very young players.

"If they had to change six or seven players, yes. But that is not the case.

"With Vilanova, the team will look a lot like this year's side. Although it is true that Real Madrid are now on the same level.

"Each team have their own style but Madrid have now demonstrated an impressive level of play and they are deserved winners of the title."

Milla also wished to pay tribute to the outgoing Guardiola, who is expected to take a year-long sabbatical from the game after leading Barca to 13 titles since taking charge in 2008.

"He has left his mark on Spanish football," the 46-year-old declared. "Especially for the coaches; he has been a reference point for them.

"There were many doubts about him as a lot of people were talking about how young he was and he was accused of being inexperienced.

"But that has not been the case. Barca gave him confidence: he's young, intelligent, a local and stuck to Barca's traditional style of play, while adding his own twist to it.

"Barcelona have given great joy to the people who really love football."

Milla, who played for both Barca and Madrid during his stellar career, has been involved in the Spain set-up since 2008.