So I realise I’ve not posted in a while, but have been blogging for http://www.sportsbyte.sunderland.ac.uk as Spain’s correspondent at Euro 2012. I’ll be uploading the content published on there that I have done to here as well. Thanks!
Reigning World and European champions Spain come to Poland and the Ukraine looking to be the first side in the competition’s history to win back to back titles.
Cast your mind back two years to when La Roja fought off the Netherlands to become World Champions in South Africa. The footballing world looked on in awe of the Spaniard’s pretty passing and impeccable technique, while a year later they frighteningly lifted the European Under-21 title too.
It seemed an era of Spanish footballing domination was upon us, with a conveyor belt of Xavi’s and Iniesta’s Tiki-taka’ing their way up through the country’s youth system.
However, despite coming through qualifying with a 100% winning record and conceding just six goals, Vicente del Bosque’s side just don’t seem as invincible as they once were.
Injuries to their record goalscorer David Villa and defensive goliath Carlos Puyol have rocked the Spaniards foundations, with Villa’s absence made all the more worrying due to Fernando Torres’s inability to rediscover his goalscoring form from a few years ago.
Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Llorente and Pedro will all be pushing Torres for what will likely be Spain’s only striking role in their dynamic system, which allows their plethora of midfield talent to do maximum damage with their brilliant passing interplay.
Spain may be a weaker team without Villa and with a defensive reshuffle, but with players like Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata, David Silva and Xabi Alonso in their ranks, the defending Champions remain the team to beat.
Fernando Torres. It would be easy to point to Xavi as Spain’s key man during the competition, however, Spain need someone to convert all their dominant ball possession into goals – something they will look to El Niño for.
Of course Torres has had a difficult first full season at Chelsea, but showed glimpses of his former-self under new boss Roberto di Matteo at the tail end of last season.
Torres’s mobility and clever movement should see him get the nod over Llorente and Negredo in this fluid Spanish style, therefore placing the country’s hopes firmly upon his shoulders.
BEST EURO PERFORMANCE
Winners 2008. You need look no further than four years ago for Spain’s finest hour in the European Championships when they won their first senior competition since they hosted the competition back in 1964.
Much like England, Spain had been described as “perennial underachievers” when it came to competition football. A nation blessed with footballing talent, yet unable to deliver on the big stage.
It was in Austria and Switzerland, however, that they’d put their demons to rest. Spearheaded by then Valencia striker David Villa, ‘the golden generation’ of Spanish football lived up to their billing as favourites, reaching the final where they would face Germany.
Fernando Torres’s 33rd minute dink over Jens Lehmann would be enough to see off the Germans, sending the long suffering Spanish public into a frenzy and ushering in an era of Spanish dominance in world football.
Finalists. Despite injuries to a couple of key players, Spain are still the team to beat.
The depth of quality in their squad is unbelievable, and the real challenge will be fighting fatigue after a long domestic season for the majority of their side.
La Roja should have enough about them to make it to the final, then it is about which team plays better on the day.
With the squad littered with players who have won both the Euros and the World Cup in 2010, Spain have the big game players to win back to back championships and write their name into footballing history.
(Original post: http://sportsbyte.sunderland.ac.uk/?p=14614)