Donetsk: Cesc Fabregas has rubbished claims that he is fulfilling the same role for Spain that Lionel Messi carries out for Barcelona, arguing that comparing him with the Argentine is ridiculous. The former Arsenal man is not a centre-forward by trade but he is being deployed up front by La Roja as a 'false nine' and Fabregas is embarrassed by the suggestion that he offers the same attacking threat as his Blaugrana team-mate.
"I have never compared myself to Messi," he told reporters on Monday. "It is nonsense. I just play where the coach tells me.
"I do not think we should talk about it as he is a very different player to me. We're talking about the best player in the history of football. Yes, I feel comfortable playing there; I have freedom. But to then to compare me with Messi would be a great exaggeration. Messi is one thing; Cesc Fabregas another."
"I don't think anybody expects me to beat five players and score a goal. I'm expected to give a final pass or get in behind."
Fabregas has played his part in Spain reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2012. However, the brand of football that they have used to get there has come under attack from certain sections of the media, who are arguing that 'tiki-taka' is not as incisive as it once was and has now become monotonous.
Fabregas, though, insists that the players do not care how their style of play is viewed and have no intention of ditching a strategy which has put them in a position to win a third successive major international tournament.
"If our games are boring, well, your opinion is as valid as everyone else, but we trust in our style of play and, needless to say, we will not change it," he declared. Fabregas did, however, issue an apology to Spain's fans for the players' failure to acknowledge them after Saturday's quarter-final win over France.
"It's true we should have shown more joy with our supporters," the 25-year-old conceded. "Sometimes we are under such pressure and maybe we wanted to transmit calm, and we forgot a little about our fans, who make such a big effort to come and support us.
"If you were offended then please forgive us - it won't happen again. And let's hope we can celebrate passage to the final together on Wednesday."
Standing between Spain and a place in the final are Portugal, a side many have compared to Real Madrid because of their counterattacking approach to the game and the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo and a couple of his club colleagues in their starting line-up.
"I think they play a different kind of football to Real Madrid," Fabregas argued. "Although it is true that the counterattack is one of their strengths, I do not think that they only have that.
"[Joao] Moutinho or [Raul] Meireles have been good at keeping the ball, while Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo are extremely fast."
Should Spain progress they will face either Germany or Italy in the final. Fabregas has been impressed by the performances of both nations thus far and is expecting these two great rivals to produce another epic encounter in the last four.
"Italy have a very competitive team and they are playing at a high level, as we saw against England [in the quarter-finals]," he pointed out. "Germany are a team that I like very much. They have it all.
"It will be a closely fought semi-final, very competitive. It's certainly going to be lively and hopefully we'll get through to play against one of the two."
Spain meet Portugal in Donetsk on Wednesday, while Italy and Germany collide in Warsaw the following night.