Manager tips Spain for glory

Spain's Alvaro Morata (centre) scoring past South Korea's goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon (left). Morata scored twice in the friendly as he repaid the faith of coach Vicente del Bosque, who overlooked Chelsea forward Diego Costa for his Euro 2016 squad in f
Spain's Alvaro Morata (centre) scoring past South Korea's goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon (left). Morata scored twice in the friendly as he repaid the faith of coach Vicente del Bosque, who overlooked Chelsea forward Diego Costa for his Euro 2016 squad in favour of the Juventus striker.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Del Bosque pins Euro 2016 favourites tag on his team after they maul S. Korea in friendly

SALZBURG • Vicente del Bosque has claimed Spain are favourites to win a third successive European Championship, after seeing his side beat South Korea 6-1 in a friendly on Wednesday.

Alvaro Morata and Nolito both hit a brace as Spain warmed up for the defence of their crown in Salzburg, Austria.

The Spaniards were slightly under-strength as coach del Bosque rested players from Real Madrid and their city rivals Atletico following their exertions in the Champions League final last Saturday.

But it hardly mattered as a dominant Spain scored three times before the break through David Silva's sublime free kick, Cesc Fabregas and Nolito.

Morata netted a second-half double and Nolito grabbed his second as Spain recorded a morale-boosting thrashing of the Koreans, whose consolation seven minutes from time came from Ju Se Jong.

Nolito had struck his first two international goals in a 3-1 friendly win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Saint Gallen, Switzerland, on Sunday.

Wednesday's friendly saw former Real stopper Iker Casillas preferred to Manchester United's David de Gea in goal.

Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, who made the squad of 23 following Real defender Dani Carvajal's injury in the Champions League final, made an appearance in a side that again included a strong Barcelona presence in the form of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.

However, having played in Real's extra-time win on penalties over Atletico, Real's Sergio Ramos and Lucas Vazquez and Atletico's Juanfran and Koke were missing. They will be the last to join the Spanish squad tomorrow.

"We are the favourites (for Euro 2016) because we come into it having won four years ago," del Bosque said. "There are other national teams, but it's our dream to be champions again. We're in a good moment. We have had a tough season, but we are ready to go into the Euro in the best condition.

"We are ready to start, to win is another thing. There are good rivals and in football everything is really even."

Spain play Georgia in Getafe on Tuesday before beginning their Euro 2016 Group D campaign on June 13 against the Czech Republic in Toulouse.

In other friendlies on Wednesday, Belgium needed an equaliser a minute from time from Everton's Romelu Lukaku to save their blushes in Brussels against Finland.

Kasper Hamalainen had given Finland, who came into the match on the back of four straight defeats, a 53rd-minute lead.

In a match between two qualified sides, the Czech Republic got the better of Russia 2-1 in Innsbruck.

Aleksandr Kokorin gave Russia a sixth-minute lead but Tomas Rosicky equalised from a volley on 49 minutes. Tomas Necid bagged the winner in the last minute.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2016, with the headline 'Manager tips Spain for glory'. Print Edition | Subscribe