Albiol: Spain will relish 'favorites' tag

The Real Madrid defender feels that his nation's status as frontrunners will not prove a hindrance to their chances of continental success
Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol does not believe that there is any risk of Spain buckling under the pressure at Euro 2012, arguing that Vicente Del Bosque's men will actually savor their status as favorites.

There is a huge sense of expectancy surrounding the reigning world and European champions, who are bidding to become the first side to win three successive international tournaments.

However, Albiol is in no doubt that after years of underachievement, the current generation of Roja stars will relish the opportunity to make history.

"We love being favorites, because we have earned it," the center-half told the Spanish Football Federation's website. "It took us many years to achieve.

"But the team knows they have to maintain the same humility and the same work they have carried in recent years. This is what won us a World Cup, as well as the footballing talent of each player."

Spain is expected to kick off the defence of its European title with a victory over an Italy side in disarray because of the fallout from the Scommessopoli match-fixing scandal and the unavailability of center-half Andrea Barzagli through injury.

However, Albiol remains very wary of the threat posed by the Azzurri, who are often at their most dangerous in times of adversity.

"Italy is a tough opponent; they are very competitive in these tournaments," the 26-year-old warned. "There is a rivalry between us and, therefore, it will not be easy."

Spain's Group C clash with Italy in Gdansk will kick off at 12:00 p.m. ET on June 10.

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