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5.18.2008

Aragones believes in Spain chances of winning Euro (even without Raul)

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The European Championship in Austria and Switzerland is really close, and Spain is one of the most powerfull teams, set to reach an important position.

That's why Luis Aragon├ęs, the coach, explained that he picked his side carefully, and decided not to choose Raul Gonzalez for the tournament.

Raul, who is Spain's top scorer with 44 international goals and currently third in La Liga goal-scoring charts this season, has not been named in the Spanish side since September 2006 and his omission from the Euro squad had been widely predicted.

Also accurately reported was his replacement by uncapped Real Zaragoza striker Sergio Garcia, especially after the withdrawal of FC Barcelona young talent Bojan Krkic.

"I did talk to Bojan and he told me that he did not feel at his best physically and mentally," said coach Aragones.

As for Garcia, he makes the squad on the back of some strong individual performances for his team, which are currently lying 18th in La Liga.

But he has scored only four goals so far this season compared to Raul Gonzalezs 18 for Spanish champions Real Madrid.

Aragones defended his decision to pick Garcia and omit Raul, saying: "There's a debate because he (Raul) is a player in the media's eye. But the clubs have no influence over the choice of a footballer. I focus on the players, not the position of the team in the league.

"There are many other great players who, when you look at the number of minutes played, have scored more than Raul and they haven't made the list either."

The biggest surprise in Aragones' squad is the inclusion of Villarreal's attacking playmaker Santiago Cazorla.

Therefore, this is the final list:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Jose Manuel Reina (Liverpool/ENG), Andres Palop (Sevilla)

Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Juanito (Real Betis), Alvaro Arbeloa (Liverpool/ENG), Fernando Navarro (Real Mallorca), Raul Albiol (Valencia), Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal)

Midfielders: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal/ENG), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), David Silva (Valencia), Santiago Cazorla (Villarreal), Ruben de La Red (Getafe), Xabi Alonso (Liverpool/ENG), Marcos Senna (Villarreal)

Strikers: David Villa (Valencia), Sergio Garcia (Real Zaragoza), Fernando Torres (Liverpool/ENG), Daniel Guiza (Real Mallorca)



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