VIENNA, Austria Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso doesn't agree with teammates who say Germany is the favorite heading into Sunday's European Championship final. Alonso likes what he sees from his squad.
Strikers Fernando Torres and Dani Guiza, and midfielder Xavi Hernandez picked Germany as the favorite because it has a much better record than Spain in major tournaments. But Alonso said Spain, which is undefeated in 21 matches, has played so well in Euro 2008 that there's not much separating the teams.
"I don't think there's a clear favorite," the Liverpool player said Friday. "The teams are pretty close, and anything can happen in a final."
To be sure, he said, Spain has a lot of respect for Germany, "knowing they have a great team with a lot of experience."
"Two years ago, they had a great World Cup," Alonso added. "They changed their coach, but have continued on the same line."
He singled out strikers Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose, and midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Ballack as Germany's biggest threats.
"They are great players," Alonso said.
But Spain's squad is packed with talented midfielders, which means Alonso has seen most of Euro 2008 from the bench. He came on as a second-half substitute in both matches against Russia, and started in Spain's third group stage game against Greece, hitting the post with a shot in that game.
Despite the fierce competition, the 26-year-old Alonso said the outlook was one of confidence in the Spanish squad as it prepares to try to win the nation's first title since Euros in 1964.
"I don't know how it worked 44 years ago. But having been with the boys for a month, the group is fantastic," Alonso said. "We have a great atmosphere in the changing room. That is one of the keys of our success at the moment."
The players don't think that will change despite the absence of injured striker David Villa. Alonso mentioned Spain's depth of talent on the bench that will make losing Villa the tournament's top scorer with four goals less of a factor.
"I don't think it will be a big problem for us," Alonso said. "Whoever is coming from the bench is doing a great job and that is as important as who is starting."
Villa, who's scored the only hat trick at Euro 2008 against Russia in Spain's 4-1 win in the group stage two weeks ago, will miss the final after pulling a hamstring while taking a free kick in the first half at Ernst Happel Stadium.
Coach Luis Aragones brought on Cesc Fabregas to boost Spain's midfield, leaving Torres as the sole attacker. The move paid off, with Spain scoring three goals in the second half, two set up by Fabregas.
"We are delighted and pleased with the performance," Alonso said. "The result was brilliant. Hopefully on Sunday, we will repeat another performance like that. Let's hope we can play a good match and lift the cup, which would be historic."
Spain has only the one major title. It reached the Euro final 20 years later, but lost to France.
Germany, on the other hand, has been crowned European champion three times and world champion another three. Furthermore, Spain has only beaten Germany once in seven competitive matches, with four victories for the Germans and two draws.
"They know how to win tournaments, they know how to play these games and we know we have be careful because they are the favorites," Torres said.