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Nov 10, 2011

Capello: England lack the quality

Fabio Capello believes England's time as a major international force is "past".

• England vs Spain preview
• Gerrard eyes last chance at Euro 2012
• England to wear poppies on armbands

England, whose 1966 World Cup triumph remains the country's only major trophy, have proved a significant disappointment in recent years.

At Wembley on Saturday, they come up against a Spain side currently at an all-time high, having won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, and Capello says England cannot be considered in the same class.

"That time is past," he said in The Sun. "I think we've done a pretty good job. English football has only 33% English players. No more. This makes everything difficult.

"We have good players of our own but not good enough to try to have the style of play which Spain have. You cannot think of playing one touch if you do not have the quality."

England's hopes of recording a positive result against Spain will also be severely hampered by the absence of key players, not least Wayne Rooney, as Fabio Capello looks to experiment with less established stars in a bid to find a plan B for Euro 2012. Even so, Xavi believes Spain are in for a difficult night.

"In any competition, in the World Cup or in the Euros, England are always among the favourites for the title," Xavi said. "At Euro 2012, people think they have a chance to win. The English are difficult opponents, so Saturday will be a unique match for us. A hard test.

"I certainly wouldn't want them in the first group phase. They are always dangerous and a hard to beat with their talented players and spirit."

He added: "I know England have important players missing and that's a setback for them, but I don't think it means they are less powerful. They are still one of the best teams in the world.

"Rooney's absence is very important for England, but I watch the Premier League and it is the forwards who are the strongest players in England. Any problems any team have don't come from the attack. The Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world for attacking players.

"Capello is a strategist, a very good tactician. With him in charge, England have improved defensively and it will not be easy to beat them at Wembley."

As the world champions, Xavi knows Spain are expected to deliver every team they take to the field, but he is confident they can deliver.

"This isn't a simple friendly match but a prestige match" he said. "We're the World Cup champions and England are big team. Our challenge is to offer a good image and to win. From our success at the World Cup we're expected to show that same level in every match. That brings its own pressure.

"It's not easy and we know we're in London for a hard test against a very strong opponent, but I'm optimistic. We believe that with our style, we can beat any rival."

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