Iniesta says Spain will start from scratch

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BARCELONA, SPAIN (AP) - Andres Iniesta said Tuesday that Spain is determined to win more titles after its World Cup success and that the team begins “from zero” next season.

The Barcelona midfielder’s extra-time goal against the Netherlands clinched a 1-0 win for Spain in Sunday’s final.

Iniesta was speaking as he arrived in Barcelona after celebrating with his teammates and thousands of fans in Madrid, where the Spain team met King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Iniesta said winning the World Cup would not affect the team in the future.

“We want to keep going in this way in terms of titles. This title won’t affect the performance of any player,” he said.

Spain plays Mexico in a friendly on Aug. 11 and begins its effort to qualify for the 2012 European Championship against Liechtenstein on Sept. 3.

On his winning goal from a Cesc Fabregas pass, Iniesta said: “It was all very quick. At first I felt very isolated and thought I must be offside.

“It was phenomenal how Cesc saw me, he passed to me very fast and when I got the ball I knew it had to go in, because going to penalties would have been terrible.”

Iniesta said he would like to play alongside Fabregas at club level next season.

The Catalan team wants to sign the Arsenal captain and has already had one bid rejected. During Monday’s celebrations in Madrid, Barcelona players Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique forced a shirt over Fabregas’s head as a joke.

“Everybody has come out and spoken of the desire we have for him to be with us next season. We would be delighted. Not just because he is a teammate and a friend, but because it would be great for the club,” Iniesta said.

“His arrival would give us a huge jump in quality and he would play his part to help us stay up there competing in the big competitions. We would love him to be here.”

Iniesta said there are similarities between the Spanish team and Barcelona, which was the most represented team in the World Cup-winning squad.

However, he underscored the importance of non-Barcelona players in the team, such as Fernando Llorente of Athletic Bilbao, who came on as a substitute during the 1-0 win against Portugal.

“The day of the Portugal game, Llorente’s coming on was key to winning,” Iniesta said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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