Euro 2012 - Team profile: Spain

Sun, 03 Jun 13:04:00 2012

Spain shook off the tag of inveterate also-rans to triumph at Euro 2008 and winning a first World Cup two years later secured them undisputed status as the team to beat in international football.

FOOTBALL Euro 2008 Spain fans - 0

However they will have to re-write football's record books if they are to keep their European title in Poland and Ukraine this summer. No country has ever retained the Henri Delauney trophy and no country, on any continent, has won three major tournaments in a row.

The Iberian nation used to be haunted by the 'curse of the quarters' - at the European Championships of 1996 and 2000 and at the World Cups of 1994 and 2002 the last eight had proved a bitter stumbling block.

Fans feared the worst at Euro 2008 when then-world champions Italy battled to a 0-0 draw to force a quarter-final penalty shootout but that was when Spain's luck changed and Iker Casillas's saves sent them through.

Released from their jinx and flush with self-belief they swept on to the title and followed up their success in Austria and Switzerland with a less spectacular, but equally efficient, performance to win the World Cup in South Africa.

Under coach Vicente del Bosque, they continue to win plaudits for their slick possession play, attacking flair and solid defence and are firm favourites to become the first nation to win back-to-back continental titles with a World Cup in between.

"Of course we are favourites due to the fact that we are the reigning European and world champions and it seems that is something we can't shake off," a smiling Del Bosque said in an interview with Reuters in March.

"But Netherlands and Germany, who were second and third in the World Cup, are also clear favourites, all the more so because of their impeccable Euro 2012 qualifying runs," the former Real Madrid coach and player added.

"Then you have England, Italy, France, Portugal, they all have excellent players.

"And in these relatively short championships it can happen that any country comes into form and wins it, as happened with Greece in Portugal in 2004."

Del Bosque succeeded Luis Aragones after Euro 2008 and has kept the core of the team intact while making minor adjustments to a well organised and confident side who won all eight matches in Euro 2012 qualifying. They had also won all 10 qualifiers in the build-up to the World Cup.

One major issue though is the absence of David Villa following a broken leg sustained in December, and the absence of Carles Puyol due to a knee injury.

Spain would not have won Euro 2008 or the 2010 World Cup without Villa's goals - he has 51 in 82 appearances - and his absence in Poland and Ukraine could prove critical.

Another headache for the coach is the loss of form suffered by Fernando Torres since he joined Chelsea from Liverpool just over a year ago.

Del Bosque will have to decide whether he is ruthless enough to leave out the man who became a national hero when he netted the winning goal in the Euro 2008 final against Germany.

However, in recent months, with a change of coach at Chelsea, he has started to find the net again and scored in a pre-tournament friendly against South Korea on May 30.

Athletic Bilbao's towering striker Fernando Llorente and Sevilla's bull-like forward Alvaro Negredo are some of Del Bosque's other options up front and he has also experimented with a team that does not include a traditional central striker.

With exceptional midfielders like Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva and Xavi on his roster, who all have a keen eye for goal, Del Bosque may go for a 4-2-4 formation, with Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets in the holding midfield roles.

"We have almost four years now with a stable national team, a national team that has not suffered major changes," Del Bosque told Reuters.

"Yes we have quality, yes we have the right playing system and yes we have the passion necessary to compete," he added.

Spain shook off the tag of also-rans to triumph at Euro 2008 and winning a first World Cup two years later means they are the team to beat. - 2

Focus  : Spain

Reuters

Comment 1 - 11 of 11

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  1. Ireland will sort ye out like Chelsea did to Barcelona

    From Hibernia, on Sun 3 Jun 19:38
  2. England have Excellent players? Agreed, except that­ most of them are on crutches......

    From Sankalp, on Sun 3 Jun 18:48
  3. Laughing Hyena Busquets does. Alonso is more of a­ creative midfielder though. And by holding midfielder­ he means midfielders who don't make runs into the­ box or get on the end of crosses etc.

    From Benny, on Sun 3 Jun 16:52
  4. Whichever Englishman wrote this article.. Alonso and­ Busquets aren't playing the "Holding­ Role", because there is no such thing. They are­ creative midfielders, and the Spanish will never have­ heard of "that holding role". No wonder­ England are hopless !

    From LAUGHING HYENA, on Sun 3 Jun 16:39
  5. Taking part in the qualification rounds and failing to­ qualify still counts as taking part in the World Cup...

    From T Pain, on Sun 3 Jun 15:59
  6. I think Spain can win three major tournaments in a row;­ they´re a real team, the best footballers playing the­ best football.........and Torres. Watch out!!

    From Mike, on Sun 3 Jun 15:04
  7. Egypt didn't enter a worldcup since 1990 !!!

    From , on Sun 3 Jun 14:51
  8. The record is that no country has won three major­ tournaments they have entered in a row - Egypt entered­ and didn't win the 2006 World Cup between their­ 2006 and 2008 African Cup of Nations wins so­ haven't won three in a row...

    From T Pain, on Sun 3 Jun 14:07
  9. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    Egypt won African cup of nations three times in a row­ (2006, 2008 & 2010) ... false info from the editor­ to claim that no country on any continent has ever­ retained a title three times in a row !!!

    From , on Sun 3 Jun 13:56
  10. They have won the hearts of people like me that loves­ to watch attractive and moving matches. Go Los Ches!­ Win it again.

    From oyadiji emmanuel, on Sun 3 Jun 13:50
  11. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    Lost respect to Spain how they won the world cup by­ cheating. Don't get me started.

    From Tk, on Sun 3 Jun 13:30
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