Spain striker Fernando Torres warned his teammates to learn from Russia's early exit and not be complacent when the defending champions take on Croatia for a quarterfinal spot in the European Championship.
Torres hopes Spain will be alert from the opening whistle and urged the team to remember what happened to the Russians, who started the tournament brightly, but were eliminated after a 1-0 loss to Greece.
"It's a good wake-up call for us and for all the teams like us, if you want to win the tournament," Torres said Sunday. "You have to be aware from the first minute to the end, especially against a team like Croatia. You have to have respect for the opponent."
Spain and Croatia are tied with four points in Group C, with a draw enough to secure a place in the quarterfinals. The World Cup champion would only exit if it loses at the Arena Gdansk and Italy beats Ireland, which is already eliminated. Spain and Croatia can go through to the last eight with a 2-2 draw.
"(Greece's victory) tells me that football is permanently providing lessons," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. "We would be guilty of false modesty if we thought this would be an easy game."
Torres, who scored twice in a 4-0 rout of Ireland, is hoping to start for the second straight game after coming off the bench in the opening 1-1 draw with Italy, when Del Bosque preferred to base his starting attack on a six-man midfield.
Torres' form is improving after an irregular season at Chelsea, and was hopeful of starting the first competitive match between the two nations.
"I'm confident with the national team, happy to have (the) confidence of coach and to play in the second game, scoring two goals. There's no reason that something has to change," said Torres, who is five appearances away from 100 caps. "Hopefully at the end of the Euro everything will be much better than when I started the tournament."
Spain is trying to win three straight major titles. West Germany and France both failed in their bids to secure a triple, but Spain's players were confident that all the humble talk that has surrounded their own attempt was genuine.
"Our ideas are the same — the ones that come with the belief in becoming champion," No. 3 goalkeeper Pepe Reina said. "This group of players is practically the same, playing together a long time now. The harmony inside the locker room is incredible. It takes even more to repeat, but we're here with a chance."