Holders Spain finding fitness ahead of World Cup

AFP| Last Updated: Jun 04, 2014, 10:03 AM IST

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.