Playing with Spain a 'privilege' says Alonso

Former Liverpool star Xabi Alonso regards himself as a lucky man to get the chance to play alongside a team full of stars with Spain.

Alonso will line-up with brilliant Barcelona duo Xavi and Andres Iniesta on Sunday when his country look to win the World Cup for the first time against Holland at Soccer City.



The 29-year-old knows he is the one so often overlooked during discussions about the trio.



But he is not bothered about that.



"It is a privilege to among this group of players," he said. "There is so much quality.



"I have always tried to give my best so I never worried that I would not find a way into the side.



"We have great competition and that is good for the team because it brings the best out of everyone.



"Whenever you are playing you have to be ready and whenever you are on the bench you have to believe you will come on."



There are not many lessons the Euro 2008 winners can learn from England's disastrous campaign, but Alonso has found one.



Given Spain are overwhelming favourites this weekend, it is worth remembering how England were being talked up ahead of their games with the United States and Algeria, and how they were named at prohibitive odds to finish top of their group.



As Alonso well knows, the Three Lions achieved none of these things.



"Expectations were very high for England," said Alonso.



"One bad game and you are out. That is how it works in the World Cup and that should be a warning to us on Sunday."



With likely Golden Boot winner David Villa failing to find the net in the 1-0 semi-final win over Germany and Fernando Torres still to get off the mark in the competition, Spain owe their place in the final to veteran defender Carles Puyol, who powered home a header 17 minutes from time in Durban.



Puyol has been performing as well as ever, yet the 32-year-old's international future remains open to question after indications earlier this year that the Barcelona centre-half would call it a day once he got home from South Africa.



"There will be time to think after Sunday," said Puyol, who will be winning his 90th cap.



"No decision has been made. I will talk about it with the coach (Vicente Del Bosque) and the sporting director (Fernando Hierro) after the final."



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas