Alba hopeful of Olympic gold

Barcelona defender Jordi Alba has stated his intention was always to travel with the Spain squad to the Olympics, despite his new club's protestations.

Alba is Barça's latest recruit after arriving in a €14 million deal from Valencia and has already experienced success at the national team level this summer as he starred in Spain's victory at the European Championship.

However, his new employers didn't want him to play in another tournament before the season starts for fear of burnout. Alba, though, was steadfast in his decision. He told AS: "My dream was always to come to the [Olympic] Games. I had already spoken with [Luis] Milla when I was at Valencia. I am not the first Barcelona player to go to the Olympics.

"We have seen replays of the gold medal won in Barcelona in 1992 and we have the same dream to win it again. Any team nowadays can beat us, but we see ourselves as capable of winning the gold, no matter how difficult it will be."

My dream was always to come to the [Olympic] Games.
Barcelona defender Jordi Alba

Meanwhile, Alba's Olympic team-mate Juan Mata doesn't believe the EUROs will have an overwhelming influence on Spain's performance in the United Kingdom in the next few weeks.

"Being world and European champions doesn't give us an advantage or a disadvantage," Mata said. "It is true that the opponents could come with more desire to beat us, but we have the same chance as everyone else and we have to win on the pitch.

"We don't feel pressured, but yes we are aware of the expectation. Now there is a new goal in Spanish football, to win the gold medal. Too much pressure is not a good thing. When you win titles, nothing lasts forever, however, perhaps we can also arrive at the final in these Olympics."

The Chelsea forward does think, though, that this tournament is the perfect stage for the younger generation to show they are ready to step into the senior side should they be required. "Vicente [del Bosque] and Milla have the same style. There are many young players with the ability to play in the senior side and this is thanks to the work being done in Spanish football."

Spain kick off their Olympic campaign in a week's time at Hampden Park against Japan before also going on to face Honduras and Morocco in Group D.