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Crisis-hit Spaniards look to boss Del Bosque

Del Bosque looked uncomfortable when asked about the paper's opinion at a news conference on Sunday and played down his own and his team's significance.

The fact remains, however, that many suffering Spaniards are sorely in need of the kind of morale boost winning Euro 2012 would provide and Del Bosque is the man who can deliver.

Unemployment, particularly among young people, is punishingly high, the nation's banks have had to be rescued and the country itself is increasingly in danger of needing a bailout of its own.

"We are just players and in my case just the coach," Del Bosque said.

"Of course we want to represent our country in the best way possible, nothing more," the gruff 61-year-old added.

Striker Fernando Torres, one of the most popular players in the team, spoke about the economic crisis at an earlier news conference and said he and his team mates were well aware of how some of their compatriots were struggling.

"We have family and people we know who are going through a tough time and we listen to what the fans who come to training to watch us are saying," he added.

"If [winning Euro 2012] can be a way of escape for them and take attention away from their problems it's an extra motivation for us.

"Hopefully football can continue to be a uniting factor for the Spanish people at a difficult time and if we can put a smile on people's faces then so much the better."

Spain are level with Croatia on four points at the top of Group C ahead of their clash in Gdansk on Monday.

Italy, who play eliminated Ireland, are third on two points and will be knocked out if Spain and Croatia play out a scoring draw of two goals each or more.