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Luis Enrique: 'We are in a group of favourites'

Luis Enrique: 'We are in a group of favourites'
© Reuters
The 2008 and 2012 European champions begin their challenge against Sweden in Seville on Monday.

Spain boss Luis Enrique insists his side are not favourites in Group E as they prepare to get their European Championship campaign under way against Sweden.

Enrique's squad is a far cry from the one which won the competition back-to-back in 2008 and 2012 but La Roja still boast some useful players.

Spain will also play Poland and Slovakia in the group phase and Enrique was pleased with the way his squad rounded off their tournament preparations in the friendly draw with Portugal this week.

"You can't say we're favourites – rather, we're in a group of favourites, given what the national team have won despite our most recent tournament performances," Enrique told uefa.com

"We need to show we are confident and I'll be reinforcing this to the players, but when I look back at how we played against Portugal I'm even more motivated.

"We aren't the tournament favourites either – the real favourites are the current champion. There are six or seven nations who can contend to be 'other' favourites and I'm happy if people reckon that we are in that group. I accept that pressure."

On the challenge of facing Sweden in Seville on Monday, Enrique said: "They don't have any player who might be regarded as a global star, but they stand out as a collective.

"We've played some games against them in the past and they had opportunities to hurt us. What's new now is that it'll be part of an official tournament, so I'm sure it's going to be tough and I hope we can rise to the challenge."

The two nations faced each other in the qualifying stages for Euro 2020, with Spain winning 3-0 in Madrid and drawing 1-1 in Solna as they topped the group ahead of Sweden.

Those games were enough to give Sweden boss Janne Andersson encouragement that they are capable of causing Spain problems.

"We still have the self-confidence from the Spain match and we feel we can beat them," Andersson told uefa.com.

"Playing Spain away is one of the toughest challenges in the world of football today. It's an exciting challenge and we need an absolute top performance, but we've had those in the past and I hope we can get another one.

"We know that if we can get everything to click, we absolutely have a chance."

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Thursday's key events


ATHLETICS
· The women's heptathlon continues with the long jump, javelin and 800m, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson now out of contention following an injury (1.10am-1.40pm)
· Andrew Pozzi pursues his dream of an Olympic medal in the men's 110m hurdles final (3.55am)
· Tom Bosworth and Callum Wilkinson are among the British hopes in the men's 20km race walk (8.30am)
· Holly Bradshaw aims to improve on fifth in Rio to challenge Greece's Katerina Stefanidi and Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia for an unlikely medal in the women's pole vault (11am)
· London 2012 champion Kirani James goes up against current world champion Steven Gardiner in the men's 400m final (1pm)

MARATHON SWIMMING
· One of the toughest Olympic events takes place in Tokyo Bay as GB's Hector Pardoe takes on the men's 20km marathon swim (10.30pm Wed)

BOXING
· Galal Yafai takes on takes on Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov for a spot in the gold medal bout of the fly (48kg-52kg) class (6.48am)

DIVING
· Lois Toulson and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (daughter of First Dates' Fred Sirieix) line up for the women's 10m platform (semi-final 2am; final 7am)

HOCKEY
· Australia face Belgium in the men's final (11am)

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