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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Euro 2008 Spain Squad

Euro 2008 is now just two days away. All the participating teams, their fans and the tournament organizers are now busy with their last minute preparation as the tournament begins on 7 June. You know that this year Euro is going to be organized jointly by Austria and Switzerland. There are 16 participants in the tournament including the two host countries. Except Austria and Switzerland, all other 14 teams came through qualifying round to the final of Euro 2008. There will be four groups of four teams in the group stage and two teams from each group will progress to the quarter final of the tournament. Now, in this post, I am writing about the squad of Spain for Euro 2008 tournament:

Spain is considered as one of the football powers in the football world, though in terms of achievements, Spain is always underachieved side in the world, even though Spanish La Liga is one of the best and most popular domestic league tournaments across the world. Spain achieved their only major success in football in Euro 1964 when Coach Jose Villalonga led Spain to win the European championship. Two decades later, another charismatic Coach Miguel Munoz helped Spain to become runner up in Euro 1984, in what becomes the second best performance of Spain in Euro until now. Spain’s performance in FIFA World Cup is not that much impressive as they could never reach the final of any world cup tournament, winning fourth place in 1950 world cup being the best performance of Spain until today.

As I already mentioned that Spain is an under-achieved team in world football. For instance, in the last two Euro tournaments, Spain was one of the hot favorites to win the title, but ended up without winning anything significant. In Euro 2000, they could just reach the quarter final, where they were beaten by the then world champion France. In the presence of some of the young but talented players like Raul Gonzalez, Fernando Morientes, Míchel Salgado, and Juan Carlos Valeron, it was expected at the beginning of the tournament that Spain might achieve something bigger in Euro 2000 tournament. Spain’s performance was even worse four years later in Euro 2004, even though it was believed that they had a better squad than that of the previous tournament. In the presence of two emerging stars of Spanish football: Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso- Spain was considered as one of the most favorites of Euro 2004, but they failed to make it to the quarter final this time.

Spain is still considered as one of the best sides in Europe and they are definitely one of the favorites of Euro 2008. Spanish fans will wish to see Spain replicating their Euro 1964 success this year. However, their performance in qualifying round was not flawless. Though Spain finished at the top of the Group F, they suffered two away victories to Northern Ireland and Sweden. However, they took the revenge defeating the two sides at home later on in the qualifying round.

Spain has been drawn into Group D alongside defending champion Greece, Sweden, whom Spain met twice in the qualifying round of Euro 2008, and Russia. Russia is in impressive form and they came though the same group of qualifying round which included Croatia and England. Spain suffered a defeat to Sweden in the qualifier, while Greece showed ability four years ago winning the European title. So, it would not be an easy task for Spain to make it to the quarter final of Euro 2008 tournament, even though they have a very talented squad.

Date

Competing Teams

Venue

10 June 2008

Tuesday

Spain vs Russia

Tivoli-Neu Stadion, Innsbruck

14 June 2008

Saturday

Spain vs Sweden

Tivoli-Neu Stadion, Innsbruck

18 June 2008

Wednesday

Spain vs Greece

EM Stadion Wals-Siezenheim, Salzburg

Unlike Spanish football team, their Coach Luis Aragones is not an underachiever. As a striker, he played for Atletico Madrid for a decade pretty successfully. Following hi retirement as a player, he immediately started his coaching career. However, because of mental illness, he had to take a break, but later on achieved a number of a success with his former club Atletico Madrid. Under his coaching, the club won the prestigious double of league title as well as Copa del Rey title in 1995/96 season. Later on, he served as a coach of a number of Spanish clubs including FC Barcelona, Sevilla FC, Valencia CF, RCD Espanyol, Betis, Oviedo and RCD Mallorca. Aragones took over as Spain coach from Inaki Saez after Spain failed to reach the quarter final of Euro 2004. Though Spain did not go beyond the second round of 2006 World Cup, Spain received applauds for their excellent football in the group stage. Even in the qualifying round of Euro 2008, Spain showed enough consistency following two back-to-back defeats in order to win the ticket of Euro 2008 final.

Coach Luis Aragones did not include Spain’s long time striker Raul Gonzalez, despite he has been in an impressive form in the recently concluded season with Real Madrid. He made some surprise call up like Sergio García and Santi Cazorla, whom he highly praised for their performance in the last season. Here, I am giving the full list of 23-man squad of Spain for Euro 2008 from Guardian:

Goal Keepers
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Andres Palop (Sevilla), Jose (Pepe) Reina (Liverpool)

Defenders
Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Raul Albiol (Valencia), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Fernando Navarro (Real Mallorca), Alvaro Arbeloa (Liverpool), Juanito Gutierrez (Real Betis)

Midfielders
Xavi Hernandez (FC Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), David Silva (Valencia), Xabi Alonso (Liverpool), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Marcos Senna (Villarreal), Santi Cazorla (Villarreal), Ruben De La Red (Getafe)

Forwards
Fernando Torres (Liverpool), David Villa (Valencia), Daniel Guiza (Mallorca), Sergio Garcia (Zaragoza)

The squad Aragones named includes a number of star players who are playing at their prime in club football and can bring out success for Spain, if they continue their form. To begin with, goal keeper Iker Casillas was in an incredible form last season for Real Madrid. I think, Aragones handed the captain’s armband to this excellent keeper and it is pretty sure that Casillas has to play a big part if Spain wants to win something special from Euro 2008. Two experienced players: Carlos Marchena and Carles Puyol will be deployed in the two centre-back positions, while attacking defender Sergio Ramos is likely to come in the right side of the defense. Joan Capdevila might come in the left back position on the field.

Midfield is perhaps one of the strong side of Spain with a number of variations available in the squad. Marcos Senna is effective as a holding midfielder, while Xavi Hernández and Cesc Fabregas can make an impression in the centre of the midfield, playing as playmaker or deep lying forward. I think, Andrés Iniesta has a great role in the Spain midfield with his versatility. He is comfortable throughout the midfield; be it right, left or the centre and can make an impression with his pace. Along with Xavi, Iniesta can form a fruitful combination in the midfield. Xabi Alonso and David Silva are also capable of proving their skill and talent in the midfield. If Spain drafts one striker in to the starting line up, I think, Fernando Torres will come in first considering his excellent debut season for Liverpool in which he scored 24 goals. David Vill is playing for Spain consistently well for a few years now and in fact, he is the top scorer for Spain in the qualifying round of Euro 2008 with seven goals. However, the reality shows that he might get into the team only when Spain deploys two strikers together in order to strengthen their attack.

Actually, Spain has a strong squad that has the every possibility to win its second European title. However, as I earlier mentioned, Spain is very often an underachieved team. Spain fails to live up to the expectation very often. If Spain can play their natural football in Euro 2008, I think, they can replicate their 1964 success this year.

What do you think about it?

Related article:

Wikipedia

Guardian

Euro 2008

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