Euro 2012: Can Spain claim incredible treble?

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Euro 2012: Can Spain claim incredible treble?
The defending World and European Champions Spain are termed favourites to win the Euro 2012 cup starting from June 8 in Warsaw, Poland. The La Roja will begin their campaign against former World champions Italy on June 11 in Arena Gdansk in Gdnask followed by matches against Croatia and Republic of Ireland.

Spain have shown their class for almost half-a-decade, dominating the game with sublime passing, possession and an unbreakable defence.

In 2008, a single goal from Fernendo Torres sealed victory against Germany and Spain were crowned European Champions for the second time after a gap of 44 years. Former Spanish coach Luis Aragonas began the revolution of stars many years back which also saw them lift the World Cup in 2010 under current coach Vincente Del Bosque.

Spain became the only team after France to lift the Europe and World titles but no other team have successfully defended their European crown for two consecutive times, in fact, none of the holders have even made it to the finals in 34 years.

A mix of talent from two of the world's biggest clubs, fierce rivals in the domestic league, Spain consists players from FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. But this time around, coach Del Bosque has opted for players from other Spanish clubs due to injury to key players.

Players from Athletic Bilbao, Champions League winners Chelsea and other clubs have gotten a chance to represent their nation in the continent's biggest stage.

But unlike their past glories, Spain have made several changes coming into this tournament. Spain's all-time top-scorer David Villa was ruled out of the competition after fracturing his left shin six months ago. The most prolific scorer in Spain's history, Villa scored a total of nine goals during Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup.

Spain will also miss the veteran defender Carles Puyol. The Barcelona captain suffered injury during the end of domestic season. Spain will have to deal without their usual Puyol-Pique combination at the heart of the defence, instead have to make changes with Sergio Ramos who can fufill both right back and central defensive roles.

Del Bosque's side boasts the best mid-field combination in the world. Mid-field maestro Xavi Hernendez controls the pace of the game with 90 % passing accuracy along with Andres Iniesta who can wriggle through 2-3 defenders with ease. Barcelona's Sergio Busquets, famous for his theatrics , makes simple passes and vital tackles which allows Spain to retain the ball and move around smoothly.

Partnering Busquets, Midfielder Xabi Alonso dictates the flow of the game with either providing long passes or maintaining possession deep in his own half but the only downside is his pace and often catches the opponent with his half-hearted challenges.

Play-makers David Silva and Juan Mata, both former Valencia players, have made a huge impact during the 2011-12 Premier League season. The duo pose a big threat to defenders with direct passes and can also switch play easily opening gaps in the defence.

Del Bosque may find it hard to select the 'perfect XI' considering more pace on the flanks with Pedro Rodrigues and Jesus Navas. Not to forget another midfield option in Cesc Fabregas who plays a more forward role with Barcelona unlike his Arsenal days, but is currently injured and could miss the crucial clash against Italy.

La Roja's strike force includes Alvaro Negredo, Fernendo Torres, Fernendo Llorente. Negredo shined in Spain's recent friendly wins over Serbia, South Korea and China but surprisingly Roberto Soldado was left out despite being better in the air and quicker with the ball. Torres has been showing promising signs of good form after scoring the opener against South Korea. Under-rated Bilbao striker Llorente scored a whopping 47 goals last season and is likely to cement his place in the Spanish squad.

But with so many options upfront, Spain look weak at the back with Puyol and fellow World Cup winner Joan Capdevilla missing out. Inclusion of talented Jordi Alba provides pace and strength down the left channel while Malaga's Santi Cazorla seems just another name in Spain's star-studded line-up.

Spain are known for their passing accuracy and possession in midfield but the only threat they face comes with opponents pace on the counter attack. Their tactics may come under immense pressure as the opposition will be aware of their style of play. They have to learn from their horror exit against United States in the confederation cup in 2009 and shocking defeat to Switzerland in their 2010 World Cup opening match.

OneIndia News

Story first published: Friday, June 8, 2012, 13:29 [IST]
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