A total of 19 of the 23 players announced for the Spanish squad for the forthcoming Euro 2012 Championship were involved in the 2010 World Cup winning squad and 12 of them, part of the 2008 European Championship winning squad. Add to that, 11 of the 23 play for either Barcelona or Real Madrid and it difficult to argue that this is anything other than a team of winners and it is difficult to see Vicente del Bosque’s losing that winning habit in Poland and the Ukraine.
The most notable absentees is striker, David Villa, who has not recovered in time from a broken tibia sustained in December, a huge loss but one which allows Chelsea’s Fernando Torres a golden opportunity to get his international career back on track, should he make the starting line-up. The other absentee is skipper, Carlos Puyol, who, like Villa, will be a big loss for the defending champions. Puyol damaged a knee earlier this month and will now miss out on making his 100th appearance for his country.
Del Bosque has called up Seville’s Alberto Negrede as one possible for replacement for Villa, although he has also included Fernando Llorente of Athletic Bilbao. Llorente is coming off his best ever domestic season in which he scored 24 goals in addition to three goals in Spain’s Euro 2012 qualification group. With Villa’s absence, up front is where Spain could be vulnerable and it is still unknown who will be given the nod to start in their opening match against Italy on 10th June. The fourth striker named is Pedro of Barcelona but he is thought to be the just that, the fourth choice.
As such, don’t expect to see Spain winning games by big margins but their defence, together with the ability to score goals from midfield, from the likes of Silva, Iniesta, Mata, Xavi and Iniesta it is difficult to see them relinquishing their grip on the European Championship without a fight.
There are only two players in the squad who have yet to be involved in a major championship, they are fullbacks, Juanfran Torres of Atletico Madrid and Jordi Alba of Valencia but neither are thought to feature in the starting XI.
In addition to Itlay, Spain will play the Republic of Ireland and Croatia in Group C, three games that they would be disappointed if they did not get at least seven points from and secure top spot which would see them progress to the last eight with a game against the runner of Group D, which could be any one of France, England, Ukraine or Sweden. The minimum expectation from Spain would be to reach the Semi Final and once there, it is the experience of their last two tournament wins that could prove the different. Much has been said about the Germand and the Dutch being primed to knock Spain off their thrown but it is difficult to see how the loss of just two players from a side that has enjoyed so much success in the past four years can suddenly make them vulnerable and as such, they are the confident pick to win Euro 2012!
Full Spain Squad:
Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina, Victor Valdes.
Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa, Raul Albiol, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Juanfran Torres.
Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Javi Martinez, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata, Santi Carzorla.
David Silva, Fernando Llorente, Fernando Torres, Jesus Navas, Pedro Rodriguez, Alvaro Negredo