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Liverpool's Xabi: Spain just like England

"It meant so much to all the English players so we had to try to be sensitive and not laugh or make fun about them going out," explained the Spain midfielder with a smile that suggested he, Fernando Torres, José Reina, Alvaro Arbeloa and their compatriots in Liverpool's coaching staff had not tried too hard to avoid revelling in England's embarrassment.

"It was really bad news for England to miss out on the Euros and especially in the way it happened. They had everything in their hands, the other results had gone for them, but that's football. I'm sure it would have been different if the roles had been reversed. If Spain had gone out, Carra [Jamie Carragher] and [Jermaine] Pennant would have been killing us."

One look at Steven Gerrard the day after a poor display at Wembley was instrumental in Alonso's avoidance of inflammatory banter.

"Stevie wasn't in his best mood. He was quieter than usual," recalled Alonso, speaking at the launch of EA Sports' Uefa Euro 2008 game. "He is coming up to 28 and this is probably one of his last Euro competitions. He will have the next World Cup in 2010 and maybe one more Euro, so it hurt him not to reach the country's expectations."

On Spain's Euro2008 hopes, Xabi said: "A lot of people believe we have a big chance in every competition and so in that sense it is very similar to England.

"Spain also have a lot of good individual players but we have to perform together as a great team and we must produce in certain moments. We haven't always done that in the past and so we haven't been successful. It is very similar to England, even with the penalties."

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Tribal Football Staff

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