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AC Milan
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By ESPN Staff

Aragones criticised for listless Spain performance

MADRID, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Spain coach Luis Aragones said that his side's performance in their 0-0 draw against Iceland on Tuesday was one of their worst since he took charge two years ago.

However, it was the Aragones himself who came in for the biggest criticism from the Spanish media on Wednesday.

'The Spain coach is refusing to accept the failure at the World Cup and refusing to admit that time is running out,' said sports daily Marca in its editorial. 'What exactly has Luis done to deserve an extension of his contract.'

Prior to the World Cup Aragones had promised to quit his post if Spain did not reach the semi-finals but he went back on his decision when they were knocked out by France in the first knockout round.

Aragones said he saw no reason why he should be held to his word and insisted he saw plenty of reason for optimism despite the team's premature exit.

He kept faith with the vast majority of the World Cup squad for Tuesday's match, but the team showed little no sign of improvement as they struggled to create chances against a limited Iceland side who dominated for much of the match.

The 68-year-old tried out two different formations during the game, 4-3-3 in the first half and 4-4-2 in the second, but neither system brought the desired results.

Aragones refused to take the opportunity to give the only newcomer to the squad his debut when he left midfielder Borja Oubina on the bench.

Sports daily AS said that he should have followed the example of world champions Italy.

'The new Italy coach Roberto Donadoni didn't call up a single member of the World Cup winning starting team for his first match of the season. He knows something that Luis doesn't and that is that the key to success is motivation.'

Aragones himself appeared to have been resigned to the fact that his players had little enthusiasm to play a friendly in the middle of August.

'It was probably the worst game since I took charge as coach, but I expected that,' he told reporters. 'We are not ready at this stage of the season, we lacked pace, stamina and strike power. The players were tired.'

Spain open their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign at home to Group F minnows Liechtenstein on Sept. 2 and then meet Northern Ireland in Belfast four days later.