Del Bosque: Retaining EUROs will be tough
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque insisted there would be plenty of competition for his world and European champions at next year's UEFA EURO 2012 finals despite his team's impressive qualifying campaign.
La Roja completed a clean sweep of wins in Group I this evening with a 3-1 victory over Scotland in Alicante, ending the Scots' hopes of a play-off berth in the process. But Del Bosque was not getting carried away when considering the prospect of a second straight European title.
He said: "There are very strong rivals: England, Germany, Italy, France...There are very strong opponents in the European Championships and it's not going to be easy at all. To win a competition like that will be very difficult."
David Silva's first-half double set Spain on their way at the Estadio Jose Rico Perez and David Villa netted a third in the 54th minute before Scotland substitute David Goodwillie scored a consolation goal from the spot after Victor Valdes had fouled Craig Mackail-Smith. Del Bosque was as generous as he could be about the visitors.
"The first half tonight was organised but there were more opportunities in the second half," he said. "Scotland have improved from the first game at Hampden [Spain won 3-2 last October]. They are more stable. I watched them in Liechtenstein and they were very good but I think the heat affected them."
The Scots needed an unlikely win against the Spanish to guarantee them a play-off spot or at least match Czech Republic's result in Lithuania. But - with the Czechs winning in Lithuania - it was all over for Scotland, who have not made the finals of a major tournament since the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ in France.
Scotland boss Craig Levein would have liked more time to prepare his side for their qualifying campaign. "I am disappointed we didn't take any points tonight but the harsh reality is that Spain were better," he said. "It doesn't get much harder than playing the European and world champions at their ground. But I feel we have improved and if we had three or four games before we started the campaign we could have got a better start. But I didn't know my best team then.
"It has taken me over a year to feel we have a strong squad. The campaign started slowly as we tried to establish who were our best players, trying to pull it all together but the second part was better. We missed out this time but we are determined not to miss out the next time. For the World Cup we will start from a better position, with a solid base."