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Monday, 19 June, 2000, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Raul defends Spanish performance
Spain v Slovenia
Raul insists Spain can still shine at Euro 2000
Spain's players have been on the defensive after suffering another heavy bout of media criticism for their performance in Sunday's 2-1 win over Slovenia.

Jose Antonio Camacho's side were a long way from their fluent best but goals from Raul and Jose Etxeberria kept up their hopes of qualifying from Groiup C.

The players agreed they had not been at their sharpest against a tenacious Slovenia side but striker Raul insisted his side were improving.

"I watched the game back in the hotel and I really enjoyed it," he enthused.



To score the second goal so quickly showed that we're capable of coming back strongly

Spain striker Raul

"All that was lacking was the second goal that would have given us that confidence and security.

"We had a lot of chances but unfortunately we made life difficult for ourselves by conceding the equaliser.

"To score the second goal so quickly showed that we're capable of coming back strongly and now we have every chance of going on and winning a quarter-final place."

Raul was also at pains to point out that the Slovenians, who have performed at a level way beyond what was expected of them, had more than played their part in keeping Spain at bay.

Perceived failings

"When things don't go exactly as you wanted them to it's partly to do with the rival team," the Real Madrid forward continued.

"We're now in pretty good form, although we're not yet at our best and we certainly can improve."

Goalkeeper Santiago Canizares, who was recalled to replace Francisco Molina, saw the result as far more important than any preceived failings in the Spanish style of play.

"To be honest the game against Slovenia wasn't really one to go out and enjoy ourselves in," said the Valencia keeper, who repaid the faith of Camacho by turning in a solid display.



Canizares: The result was all-important
"The possibility of a first round exit was hanging over us so the only important thing was victory."

The bulk of the criticism for Sunday's display was piled on Josep Guardiola but the Barcelona captain received strong support from his team mates on Monday.

"There should be no debate about Guardiola," Raul said in response to media speculation that he could be left out of Wednesday's deciding game against Yugoslavia.

"He's a vital player for Spain and he's proved that over a number of years."

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See also:

18 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Spain back on track
18 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Raul kickstarts Spain
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