Spain and Barcelona playmaker Xavi believes England have what it takes to win the European Championship this summer.
The midfield metronome, who was named player of the tournament at Euro 2008, says the current England side are only a couple of tweaks away from success.
Speaking exclusively in the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo, out now, he said: "England are a good team who have had problems with coaches.
"They could win it. England have players from the top level, and a side with a balance of young and experienced players. England intrigue me.”
Xavi and his Spanish team-mates are taking nothing for granted at this summer’s tournament despite being clear favourites and the current European and world champions.
The midfielder can still remember how not so long ago Spain laboured under the same weight of national expectation as the English:
“I remember those frustrations, when you don’t win games and blame the referee, penalties, the other teams – anyone but yourself.
"That’s not the way to find success, and sometimes you only have to make very small changes to get things right.”
Of course, Spain are now getting it right, having finally lived up to their reputation as one of Europe’s footballing forces, and while Xavi is not prepared to rule England out, he unfortunately cannot put his finger on what those small changes might be.
“England are how Spain used to be. Portugal are the same: very good players but I don’t know what goes wrong. I don’t know why England can’t get past the quarter-finals this time around.”
Read the full interview with Xavi in the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo, which includes a 68-page supplement previewing Euro 2012. However, be quick. It's only in shops today before the July issue hits the shelves on Saturday June 2.
By Philip Wroecomments