EURO IN FOCUS- EspañaJune 13, 2016
Deryl ‘Janmaat‘ Aduda takes us through the glorious footballing nation of Spain:
Winners of three of the last four major tournaments and the defending champions of Europe kick off their campaign today against the Czech Republic. After being banished unceremoniously out of the 2014 World Cup, Spain will be hoping to win their third successive European Championship to atone for the embarrassment they faced in Brazil.
Iker Casillas (Porto), David de Gea (Manchester United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Hector Bellerin (Arsenal), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Marc Bartra (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid)
Bruno (Villarreal), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Thiago (Bayern Munich), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona),David Silva (Man City), Pedro (Chelsea), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao), Nolito (Celta Vigo), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Lucas Vasquez (Real Madrid)
Spain start the tournament as third favourites behind hosts France and World Champions Germany. Spain qualified for the competition after winning 9 of their 10 matches in qualification and hadn’t lost a match in 15 months till that shock 1-0 defeat by Georgia in their last warm up game before the tournament. Spain’s defence has been solid too,conceding only five goals in their last 12 games. A slight tweak in the style of play has made Spain incorporate tactics that were frowned upon at the height of their dominance of world football. Spain no longer rely on relentless passing and pressing and they now posses dynamism that incorporates counter attacks, long balls (not the hoof and run long balls that Sam Allardyce was known for in the past) and a proper Centre Forward. This change was necessitated by the change in personnel as Xavi, perhaps the ultimate symbol for possession football, flew off to Qatar to line his pockets up with oil money.
Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres are long gone. In come Koke, Thiago Alcantara and Alvaro Morata who have shown enough competence in filling up the void left by the three. For a team that relies so much on the sum of its parts, it’s a bit hard to point out a single player who will carry the team to glory. Even then, I’d expect David Silva to find his form and play outstandingly well. The debate over who starts as the number one keeper is also interesting. Iker Casillas is way past it and David De Gea should start on merit (I honestly feel David De Gea is the greatest human being alive who is great at his job of manning goal).
Given Vicente Del Bosque’s refusal to drop his captain for the Greatest human being alive who is great at his job of minding goal, we all know who will start tonight.
Spain play the Czech Republic in their Group D opener, the team that topped a qualifying group that included the Netherlands, Iceland and the other Group D members, Turkey. If anything, denying the Dutch an opportunity to play in the Euros is testament enough that the Czechs won’t be pushovers. A win for Spain in their opening group game would put them in pole position to qualify for the Quarters top the group
Spain are good enough to reach the Semi-finals where they’ll be knocked out by eventual winners England. I’m dead serious.