JOHANNESBURG, July 3 – Cesc Fabregas says Spain have learnt their lessons from past failures and are ready to "make history" at the World Cup, ahead of their quarter-final with Paraguay on Saturday.Spain have never gone beyond the semi-finals at the World Cup, but were installed among the favourites to win this year’s tournament after ending a 44-year wait for silverware by winning the 2008 European Championship.
The Netherlands’ unexpected 2-1 defeat of Brazil in the quarter-finals on Friday has proved how unreliable pre-tournament predictions can be, though, and Fabregas says Spain must not get ahead of themselves.
"Spain have already had enough lessons in our history, whether it be in the World Cup or in the European Championship," said the Arsenal midfielder.
"We’re the champions of Europe, but what happened two years ago is no longer worthy of consideration. Anything can happen in football and Spanish football has already known lots of disappointments.
"We can make history with this team, especially as we know don’t know whether this team will play at another World Cup. In Spain, people won’t be happy with a quarter-final. We have to go all the way."
Had the tournament panned out as anticipated, Spain would now be gearing up to face Italy, but it was Paraguay who finished top of Group F as the Italians slumped to a surprise group-stage exit.
Spain’s opponents on Saturday may be unexpected, but Fabregas says he and his team-mates know all they need to know about Gerardo Martino’s men.
"We know most of their players," said Fabregas.
"They’re a very competitive team, they like a scrap and they’ll fight until the end. We’ll have to play as we know, with lots of movement and calls for the ball.
"With the players we have, we should be able create lots of chances."
Despite starring in central midfield for one of Europe’s biggest sides, as well as attracting covetous glances from his formative club Barcelona, Fabregas is unable to command a regular starting role in the Spain team.
He has started on the bench in all four of Spain’s matches to date, making his only appearances of the tournament as a second-half substitute in the group games against Honduras and Chile.
He didn’t make it onto the pitch in Spain’s 1-0 win over Portugal in the round of 16, but the 23-year-old says he is prepared to accept his second-string status for the good of the team.
"Being a substitute is not easy," Fabgreas admitted.
"You have to stay motivated without knowing if you’re going to play. You have to stay strong in your head and believe that you’re capable of making a difference as soon as you get on the pitch.
"As for my future, it’s not really the moment to talk about it because, again, this team can make history.
"I’ll talk about what I’m going to do next season when the time comes."