Xavi expects a beautiful game

Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez.
Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez. Photo: PA

Spain midfielder Xavi expects a very open game of football when the defending champions take on Croatia in Gdansk in a pivotal Group C game at Euro 2012.

Both sides are two points clear of Italy, who face the Republic of Ireland in the other pool game.

The Irish have already been eliminated after two defeats.

"I think it is going to be a beautiful game for the fans and for the players," the Barcelona midfielder said.

"They will have to go all out and so will we.

"We depend on ourselves to qualify and we will try to win and be first of our group.

"However, Croatia are very good, they have a fantastic team, with great individual talent.

"I don't expect an easy game."

There are fears amongst Italian fans that the encounter could end in a 2-2 draw, a result that would see Croatia join Spain in the next round at the expense of the Azzurri.

"Absolutely not," Xavi said.

"We only know how to play attacking football so a draw would not suit us.

"We will go out determined to hold possession, to move the ball and to go forward.

"This is our style of game and the one that made us European and world champions.

"Our aim is always to go out for victory and against Croatia it will be no exception.

"We will play to get three points from the first minute until the last."

Spain, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Italy in their group opener, already displayed that attacking flair in a 4-0 triumph over Ireland on Thursday.

"We have the same hunger that we had in Euro 2008 and at the 2010 World Cup," Xavi said.

"We are among the favourites and we have the possibility to make history and win another Euro title.

"But we know that only through hard work and humility that will be possible."

Video player: Fernando Torres scores his second against Ireland.

Fernando Torres is set to lead Spain's attack for the second consecutive game with the Chelsea striker having scored twice against Ireland.

Rivals Croatia face Spain for the first time in a major competition and coach Slaven Bilic knows his side will have to step up their game.

The Croats beat Ireland before holding Italy to a 1-1 draw on Thursday.

"We will need to play the best game of our lives," said Bilic, whose side hope to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the second straight time.

"We must be concentrated for 90 minutes.

"We have to work as a team and we are going to have to take our chances."

Tottenham playmaker Luka Modric will play in support of striker Mario Mandzukic, who is the joint-top scorer of the competition with three goals.

Spain will be at full strength with midfielder Sergio Busquets having recovered from a minor foot injury.