Spain Squad Euro 2016: Analysis and upcoming fixtures
A cursory look at Vicente del Bosque’s batch of 2014 invariably brings the words El Clasico to mind.
This year, though, the 65-year-old will be looking beyond the great Spanish duopoly for inspiration. In fact, he’ll be asking his players to watch Sevilla’s relentless European hat-trick and tell his men to do it on the grandest of European stages.
At club level, the reigning European champions have established a stranglehold on the continent. The 6 most recent European titles have gone there, as did this year’s Champions League.
On the international stage, the Spaniards relentlessly seized 3 international competitions on the trot, including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Their 4-0 whitewashing of Italy in the final set the standard in Europe - they became the only European side to defend the continental trophy.
However, Spain were humbled at the 2014 World Cup as their legendary squad were stunned right out of the blocks. The Dutch walloped 5 past them and they tumbled out at the group stage.
This year’s call-ups will be thirsting to prove to the world that La Furia Roja is as lethal as ever.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Porto), David De Gea (Man United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla).
Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Marc Bartra (all Barcelona), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Mikel San José (Athletic Bilbao), Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid).
Midfielders: Bruno (Villarreal), Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta (both Barcelona), Thiago (Bayern Munich), David Silva (Manchester City), Pedro, Cesc Fábregas (both Chelsea), Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid), Koke (Atletico Madrid).
Forwards: Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao), Nolito (Celta Vigo), Álvaro Morata (Juventus).
Vicente del Bosque is one of his history’s most decorated and most respected coaches. He’s the first to guide a team to back-to-back Euro victories (Euro 2008 & Euro 2012), and his World Cup Win in South Africa puts him in an elite club of only 19 triumphant managers in the 20 tournaments held. At Real Madrid, he brought in an era of success that is unparalleled in recent history – despite being sacked half-way through it.
His team pride themselves on their flexibility and control in midfield. He often packs his team with so many midfielders that little space is left for true forwards – but this year is an exception. Having tried Diego Costa, he’s settled on a brand new front-line including Aritz Aduriz (35) & Lucas Vazquez (18).
His tactical acumen is boosted by his love of continuity – he doesn’t alter the systems his squad play at club level too much (a hybrid of Madrid & Barcelona), which reduces the time it takes for them to click. He’s a veritable heavyweight, and after that smarting World Cup exit, he’ll uproot nations to bring Spain back to the top level.
UEFA Euro 2016 Team Preview: Formations & Tactics
Formation – 4-3-3
The Spaniards enjoy lining up in a 4-3-3 or even a 4-5-1 because it brings the best out of their possession-heavy style. With five midfielders parked in the middle of the pitch (the striker is often actually a false 9, for a total of 6) they can take the ball to and from the wide areas with a rapid succession of short, easy passes.
If need be, Jordi Alba can move forward and Cesar Azpilicueta comes inside so they can add another man in midfield. The first-choice CB pairing comprises of the fast & furious Sergio Ramos, who is never shy of going forward either.
This formation allows the Spanish players to rotate around the pitch in Del Bosque’s style but at their own tempo, as they can switch positions around very easily and neatly. The exchanges between their midfielders are often designed to pull defences apart from the edge of the box, where diagonal overlapping runs or extremely tight through-balls can hurt.
This freedom & flexibility in their formations (allied with the quality and versatility of their players) makes the Spanish team a veritable beehive.