Casillas soaks up the pressure

Iker Casillas

Spain captain Iker Casillas feels it is his "responsibility" to help his side beat Germany in the Euro 2008 final on Sunday.

The Real Madrid goalkeeper was the hero against Italy, saving two penalties to guide Spain past the quarter-final stage, and has been a consistent performer throughout the run to the final.

Spain have finally managed a return to the title game for the first time since 1984 and Casillas says he and his team have to make to sure they lift the trophy.

"I feel a responsibility and tension ahead of the final," said the 24-year-old.

"I feel a responsibility not only for my team-mates but for all the millions of fans that are behind us.

"The most important thing is to get to a final and win it. Although it will not be easy."

La Seleccion have only managed to overcome the Germans once in a competitive game and that was back in 1984.

This is the third time that Spain have reached the European Championship final, compared to the six now reached by the Germans, and Casillas is well aware that his side face a team which always seem to perform in the big games.

"Germany have more experience and history in this type of game," he said.

"They are a national team that have always managed to get past the quarter-finals, something which we have struggled with until now."

Spain go in search of their second-ever major trophy without tournament top scorer David Villa, who is unavailable because of a thigh injury.

However, Germany also have their share of problems with captain Michael Ballack doubtful for the clash with a calf injury.

His absence might be seen as a blessing for Spain, but Barcelona defender Carles Puyol hopes the Chelsea midfielder will recover.

"Ballack is a very important player," said Puyol. "I don't know if he will able to play or not.

"But I am a footballer and I hope that he can play.

"I would feel sorry if he didn't make it because of injury but we also know that whoever replaces him will do a good job."