Holders Spain finding fitness ahead of World Cup
WASHINGTON - Spain's players said Tuesday they'll be fit for the defense of their World Cup crown in Brazil, despite the rigors of a long club season.
Right back Juanfran is just one of the players on Vicente del Bosque's squad who have been nursing injuries, but he vowed he would be "100 percent" healthy and ready for Brazil.
"I don't have any problem, and I am 100 percent with the team," the Atletico Madrid defender told a press conference in Washington, where Spain will train prior to a Saturday friendly against El Salvador.
Juanfran suffered a sprained right ankle in the Champions League final that Atletico Madrid lost to Real Madrid on May 24.
The 29-year-old said he was limping in the wake of the painful injury, but insisted he was now recovered and had told Del Bosque: "When you need me, I'll be there and I'll do my best."
"I've had difficult moments in my career and I've overcome them -- this is one more," he said.
Spain's squad includes seven players who competed in the Champions League final -- the extra duty adding to physical wear and tear.
In a comparison of combined minutes played in 2013-14 by various World Cup-bound teams, the BBC calculated that based on predicted starting lineups, Spain have played a 37,888 minutes.
That compares to 37,130 for Italy, 34,410 for England and 30,656 for hosts Brazil.
Midfielder Santiago Carloza doesn't think Spain will be any less ready than their opponents.
"The season has been tough for everyone. I don't think we are any more or less tired than the other teams," Carloza said, adding that Spain's squad is "physically better every day."
Juanfran also came out in defense of Spanish-Brazilian striker Diego Costa, who was included by Del Bosque in his final World Cup squad despite a nagging hamstring injury that limited him to just nine minutes in the Champions League final.
"He's great, and I'm convinced he will be one of the great players of the World Cup," Juanfran said of his Atletico team-mate.
The Spanish squad arrived on Monday in Washington, which boasts the same humid conditions that they'll face in Brazil.
El Salvador, who didn't qualify for the World Cup, aren't expected to offer the reigning champions a searching test in Saturday's tune-up match, but they will be a big draw for the US capital's large Salvadoran community, thus making for a good game-day atmosphere.
Spain face Chile and Australia in World Cup Group B along with the Netherlands -- the opponents in their 2010 World Cup final triumph.
They will open their campaign against the Dutch on June 13.
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