Sportskeeda continues to look at the main contenders for the upcoming EURO’s, and today we take a look at one of the EURO 2012 contenders: Spain.
They go into this tournament with World Cup winning coach Vicente Del Bosque in charge, and will try to defend the title they have won in 2008. Their form over the past six years has been extraordinary to say the least – in these six years they have won the World Cup for the first time, won the 2008 Euros after a gap 0f 44 years, and have been widely applauded for their style of play. Their famous Tiki Taka style of football involves passing the ball around, with a lot of first-time passes and great movement by almost all the players. And the team is filled with stars and exciting young players. The fact that the likes of Fabregas, Mata and Llorente not being able to make it into the starting XI is a good indication of the quality that this side possess.
Spain have been a dominant side over the past six years, winning everything there is to win in international football. They finally broke their duck in the 2010 World Cup with a hard-fought win over the Dutch, and they won the last EURO championship by overcoming Germany. This team’s players have been regarded as the golden generation of Spain, and the team finally seems to have fulfilled the potential and promise that the country has always shown throughout its footballing history. The last EURO win was their first since they won it back in 1964.
The former Real Madrid player will be leading Spain on another quest – to be the best in Europe. Having taken over the team from EURO 2008 winning coach Luis Aragones, Del Bosque has led Spain to the World Cup title in 2010 and will look to add the EURO championship to his CV. The former Real Madrid manager won five La Liga titles as a player for Madrid and two more league titles and two UCL titles as their coach.
Spain have played 51 games under him and have won 43 of them, roughly 84% of all matches played. He also holds the record for being the first manager to win his 10 games as a national team manager.
The team has so much quality that it’s hard to pin-point which players we should look out for. Their starry orchestra contains Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso, pulling the strings from midfield to contain possession and launch attacks. This pair would be running the show for the entire 90 minutes.
Then we have the mercurial pair of David Silva and Iniesta to work on the wings, or play behind the striker. Silva, who has helped Manchester City win the league this season, will surely be the one to look out for. Another player to keep an eye on has to be Fernando Llorente. With Fernando Torres relegated to the sidelines and David Villa recuperating from a broken leg he suffered for Barcelona, the onus falls on the big center forward, and he certainly has been lighting up the league with his brilliant performances for Athletic Bilbao. He has great strength and aerial ability, and an exceptional first touch for a big man. This is the right time for him to shine in the red shirt of Spain.
The players who will likely miss out on the championship include David Villa, who has been out of action since December due to a broken foot. The other star player who will probably miss the championship is Carles Puyol. He will require a knee surgery after he suffered an injury while playing for Barcelona.
Other key players who could miss out are:
Luis Enrique (Liverpool)
Raul Albiol (Real Madrid)
Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla)
Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao)
Nacho Monreal (Malaga)
Their preferred formation is a 4-3-3 with the probable line up: (Captain) Iker Casillas, Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, David Silva, Fernando Llorente.
The attacking formation is best suited for teams who want to play a possession game – an area where Spain do really well. The holding midfielders Xavi and Alonso have to do much of the work as they control the game, and this is the one place where they can be caught out. If their midfield is contained then the opposition have a chance. They must be closed down fast and should not be allowed more time on the ball, but with their fast one-touch movement that is not the easiest task in the world.
Spain are grouped along with the Republic of Ireland, Croatia and Italy in Group C. While every game will be a hard fought match, I do expect Spain to qualify for the next round. In fact, with their form and talent, I see them going all the way to the final at least. Spain has been playing attacking football for quite some time now, and they have tasted glory after many years of failure. If everything goes according to the plan, they should continue their domination with another appearance in the Euro Final.