The best centre-half pairing in the tournament and a raft of experience can deliver glory to Spain
Euro 2016 Preview: Spain
1. Third times a charm
Some pundits cited the fact that no team had ever won back-to-back European Championships as a reason why Spain wouldn’t win the last tournament. Remind them of this fact when they try to tell you there’s no way Spain can win three in a row. They probably said the same thing when encouraging you to back Liverpool in the Europa League final. Where they lost to triple-winning Spanish side Sevilla. In a year where Leicester won the Premier League, Sevilla win a third straight Europa League and Donald Trump is a legitimate presidential candidate why wouldn’t Spain do it?
Had they enjoyed a successful World Cup 2014 then maybe there would be some success fatigue. Luckily for their chances in France, Spain tanked it in Brazil and now have something to bounce back from. This is a squad of players who have become used to winning at this level and still licking their wounds from Brazil they can be a dangerous animal.
- Spain to win Euro 2016 –
2. Put Your Caps On It
Andres Iniesta at 32 years of age and Cesc Fabregas at 29 have over 100 Spanish caps a-piece, combing for a total of 210. 30 year-old David Silva has 96 caps and 27 year-old Sergio Busquets has 82. Fabregas, Silva and Iniesta are double European Championship and single World Cup winners. Busquets and 28 year-old Pedro have one of each to their names.
This could be Spain’s starting midfield and it’s filled with peak-age players with vast amounts of experience of winning at the top level, for clubs and country. Some may call the likes of Busquets, Fabregas and Pedro sneaky, dirty or occasionally downright cheats but they possess all the know-how needed to win. By hook, crook or studs to the ankle. Spain may not be the most entertaining team to watch this summer but with this five they have a chance at the triple crown.
- Iniesta to win Player of the Tournament –
3. IF De Gea starts
Vincente del Bosque renowned loyalty to his players is the main, if not sole, reason he has for starting Iker Casillas ahead of Manchester United’s three-time Player of the Year. Casillas is still a very good goalkeeper but he’s no longer amongst the current elite having declined slightly in recent seasons. De Gea most certainly is one of the best and getting better. Only regular Old Trafford attendees will truly know how much worse things could have been over the last three seasons without him.
This should be the tournament where he takes over the mantle as Spain’s number one from 35-year old Casillas. Del Bosque’s decision could make the difference for a Spain side which has yet to replace the goals of David Villa up front. Keeping the other side out will be crucial for Spain’s hopes and De Gea is simply better at it than Casillas.
- De Gea to win Goalkeeper of the Tournament –
4. Pique and Ramos
They may sound like a latino crime-fighting duo but they are possibly the best centre-half pairing at the tournament. Whether David De Gea starts or not Spain look like a side that will have to squeeze their way through games. Spain only conceded one goal on their way to winning Euro 2012 and something similar will be required of them in France. Luckily they have two of the best centre-halves in the world who play for the two top Spanish club sides.
Vastly experienced at club and national level between them they have won 9 La Liga titles, 4 Champions League titles, the Premier League, an array of other domestic and international cups on top of both playing in Spain’s recent World Cup and European Championship wins. Both are good in the air, physically strong, excellent readers of the game, quick enough and more than capable with the ball at their feet. Pique and Ramos will be the rock which Spain’s title-tilt is built upon.
- Spain to win Group D –
5. Old Dogs
At the time of writing 35-year old Aritz Aduriz is Spain’s most potent attacking option. His one 1 in 3 international appearances trumps Alvaro Morata’s 1 goal in 8. 29 year-old Nolito has yet to score in his 6 scant outings and Lucas Vazquez has yet to play for Spain. Aduriz’ career has blossomed late. Since his return to Athletic Bilbao for a third stint in 2012 he has found consistent goalscoring form, hitting a new personal best 20 La Liga goals last season.
- Aduriz scored 36 goals in 55 games for Bilbao last season
At 35 years of age this is highly likely to be his one and only chance of playing at a major tournament for Spain. Luckily he’s in the form of his life which combined with the knowledge that he has to make the most of this opportunity so late in his career, Aduriz could be a surprise hero for Spain.
- Aduriz to be Spain’s top goalscorer –