Spain At Euro 2012 – Can La Roja Write History?

Spain’s Euro Flashback

Spain has always been viewed as one of the big countries that simply didn’t perform at the big stage. For most neutral fans of the sport, it got to the point where Spain (despite the talent they have consistently produced) were a non-factor. Something that wasn’t to be taken seriously.

There was a point in time, when Spain were expected to lose. Not anymore. In 2008, the Iberian nation finally helped fans get over that country-wide mental block by becoming European Champions after beating Germany 1-0. Fernando Torres wrote his name into the history books in the 33rd minute of the match but this was no flash in the pan. The long-held promises that Spain represented as a football nation were finally fulfilled and it was done with flair.

Spain

Spain

La Roja lines up before a match

Spain

It was more than just the title, as Spain had changed the way they played football under Luis Aragones. Tiki-taka, a term first used in a slightly deprecating manner was taking hold of the imaginations of millions of fans. The country went on to win their first major title since 1964, and beat teams like Italy, Russia and perennial favorites Germany to lift the title. Torres was at his best, when he used his pace to outrun a defender before chipping the ball into the back of the net. One goal was all it took, but the a brief look at Spain’s tournament shows that they deserved the title.

David Villa was only the 7th player to score a hattrick in the Euros, while Xavi Hernandez took his first steps to showing the world that he had matured as a player and was named man of the tournament.

Euro Records

Won the 1964 European Championship, Runners – up in 1984, Quarterfinals in 1996 and 2000.

Spain Team News And Strategy

Euro 2012 Profile

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Captain) (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Liverpool)

Defenders: Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Valencia)

Midfielders: Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Malaga), David Silva (Manchester City), Jesus Navas (Sevilla)

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao)

Coach: Vincente Del Bosque

Last Game – Spain 4 – 1 South Korea

Vincente Del Bosque continued to experiment with his lineup but that didn’t stop Spain from getting a comfortable win against the South Koreans. Fernando Torres, Cazorla,Alonso and Negredo got their names on the score-sheet to keep the favorite’s confidence high.

With Torres leading the line and Alonso, Cazorla, Benat supporting him from midfield and the wings, Spain got off to a great start with the Chelsea forward scoring to help regain some confidence ahead of the Euro. The South Koreans on their part, were of little threat although they did score a goal and give their side some hope of a comeback (via Do-Heon Kim) but the World Champions were just too strong and scored 3 more goals.

What They Fielded

Starting Line-up: Reina; Albiol, Arbeloa, Ramos, Monreal; Cazorla, Silva, Alonso, Benat; Torres, Mata

Substitutes: Alvaro Dominguez, Negredo, Adrian, Soriano, Casillas, Soldado

Game In Highlights

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1dpj1AeEGM]

Spain

Key Players

Xavi Hernandez

Xavi is the metronome. The Catalan midfielder saw a drop in form towards the end of the club season due to some muscle injuries but will be looking to rewrite history by winning the tournament. That aside, Xavi’s presence in the dressing room will be extremely important since Carles Puyol is out injured.

After the incidents that occurred the last couple of seasons since Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Real Madrid, the rivalry between Spain’s top two clubs have become worse. Xavi’s friendship with Iker Casillas should help to keep the team united, which in turn should improve on-field performances.

Iker Casillas

The captain will have to keep a leash on Sergio Ramos, while Xavi does the same for Gerard Pique. Besides that, Casillas is arguably one of the world’s best keeper and played a huge role in Spain lifting the World Cup in 2010 by preventing Arjen Robben from scoring when the Dutchman was through on goal. Casillas must perform at that level for Spain to stand a chance.

Fernando Torres

With David Villa still recovering from a broken shinbone, Spain has lost out on it’s most prolific goal scorer and will be looking elsewhere for goals. The burden will have to be shared between Torres, Pedro Rodriguez and David Silva. However, the largest responsibility will be on the Chelsea forward’s shoulders. Torres simply has no choice but to perform if Spain are to win the tournament.

Manager Insight

Vincente Del Bosque

The dignified Del Bosque is a coach who will be looking to make a few changes this time around. His main worries will be the lack of a proven goal scorer like David Villa and keeping the peace between the Real Madrid and Barcelona factions. That said, the Spanish coach is not afraid to experiment a little as he proved recently by using the 4-4-2 formation.

However, for large parts of the tournament, one can expect Del Bosque to go with his favored 4-2-3-1 with Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso playing as double pivots. Spain will continue to stick with their style of pressing and short passes, while also looking for different routes to goal.

Euro 2012

Group Matches

Sunday, 10th June, v Italy

Friday, 15th June, v Ireland Republic

Tuesday, 19th June, v Croatia

Prediction

Top of the group and expect Spain to reach the Finals.