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It’s almost a decade since La Roja dominated international football. An unprecedented treble of back to back tournaments wins at Euro 2008 & 2012 and the World Cup 2010 is unlikely to be repeated. For the younger generation note that prior to this Spain were considered perennial tournament underachievers. They are danger of slipping back into that old coat after disappointing exits in the group stage at Brazil 2014, last 16 in Euro 2016 and most disappointing of all the last 16 exit to Russia in 2018.
Sweden – Seville, Spain: Monday, June 14, 8pm
Poland – Seville, Spain: Saturday, June 19, 8pm
Slovakia – Seville, Spain: Wednesday, June 23, 5pm
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Spain topped their group undefeated, with eight wins from 10 games. They won their first six matches but suffered a small hiccup in game seven when conceding a 94th-minute equaliser to Norway in Oslo. They needed an injury-time equaliser from Rodrigo themselves against Sweden three days later, stopping the hiccup becoming a persistent cough.
They finished with a flourish by heavily beating Romania (5-0) and Malta (7-0), and have performed well since, topping their Nations League group and picking up seven points in their opening three games in World Cup qualifying.
Luis Enrique took charge of Spain after the 2018 World Cup and started well by beating England 2-1 in his first match in charge. He had to step away from the national side for personal reasons in June 2019, before returning later that November. He’s got a 61% win rate as Spanish manager, which is good considering the quality of opposition in many of those games, but still shy of his 76% win rate as Barcelona manager where he won the treble in his first season with Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar up top.
Enrique played over 150 games each for both Barcelona and Real Madrid in playing days and ticks all the boxes for a big tournament manager.
Spain will play 4-3-3 with a focus on being more direct than what you might expect. Their main strength is a lack of genuine superstars. For every position, bar Dani Carvajal at right-back, Enrique has two or three players to choose from with little difference in quality whoever he chooses.
Enrique will not have favourites or issues with leaving anyone out (ask poor Jordi Alba). After a long season, having this strength in depth for a major tournament gives Spain an advantage over some of the other runners.
Pau Torres. The 24-year-old proved his class after starring for Villarreal in their Europa League victory. With Sergio Ramos left out after struggling with injury all season Torres will know he could bag himself a move to Madrid to replace the ageing Real and Spain centre-back if he delivers the goods for his country this summer.
ONE TO WATCH
Ferran Torres. Like Enrique, we have a lot of choice here, but one to watch for me will be Torres. We have seen glimpses of his quality at Manchester City and is still young at just 21. In time the £21m City paid Valencia for him, so they could give him David Silva’s No.21 shirt, could be considered one of the best bits of business going. He’s got six goals in 11 international appearances including a hat-trick against Germany.
Here’s all the key data on Spain’s squad.
- Squads and statistics correct at time of data sheet creation.
They will be disappointed if they do not go beyond the quarter-finals and once in the final four they can beat anyone. Potential winners, but after disappointing at recent major tournaments, a semi-final appearance would be considered a solid tournament.
They have potential with three home games in the group in Seville to put up a decent score and a run to the semi-finals gives them a chance to add to their tally. The scored three in Seville against Kosovo and six in November against Germany
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