Rooney pays tribute to Barcelona and Spain

ALMATY - Wayne Rooney wants to forget last week's Champions League defeat to Barcelona as soon as possible - but knows that Spanish midfielders Xavi and Andres Iniesta could well block his way to glory again next year.

Xavi and Iniesta were outstanding as Barcelona beat his Manchester United team 2-0 in the Champions League final in Rome last Wednesday, much as they have been for Spain who they helped become European champions by winning Euro 2008.

Rooney, talking to the media on Thursday before England's Group Six World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan on Saturday, said Spain would also be a tough team to beat in next year's World Cup finals in South Africa.

"In my eyes they are the best team in the world right now and it is difficult to beat them," he said.

Barring an unlikely collapse in form, unbeaten group leaders England should beat Kazakhstan on Saturday and Andorra at Wembley next Wednesday to move to within three points of qualifying for the tournament with Spain, the European champions, being among the favourites.

Rooney said he could not wait to play on Saturday to try and put last Wednesday's defeat out of his system.

"They were far the better team on the night," Rooney said. "I think Barcelona played the same way as Spain play. They're the best team in Europe and some of the players they've got are the world's best.

"We were disappointed to lose the game," Rooney added. "To be honest, we decided to forget about it the next day and try to concentrate on these England games.

"I'm delighted now I have a chance to put that to the back of my mind. It would be nice to get a win with England and a goal or two. We're looking forward to this game."

Rooney has been give more freedom by coach Fabio Capello up front, but has also been given licence to come deeper and switch positions with Steven Gerrard or link up front with a target man. He says he is happy with his new role.

"I'm enjoying it. The position I am playing for England, as I've said, is the position I like playing most. Playing in different positions is giving me a lot of experience which can only be good for me."

England beat Kazakhstan 5-1 at Wembley in October and start as strong favourites to win their sixth successive qualifier and take another step closer to South Africa.

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