International

5 things to watch from Spain at Euro 2016

2016-06-09 21:20
sergio busquets, getty images, spain, euro 2016, s
Sergio Busquets (Getty Images)

Madrid - Five things on Spain as they seek to become the first country to win three consecutive European Championship titles at Euro 2016.

WORLD CUP REBOUND

Spain's run of three consecutive major tournament victories came to a spectacular end as they were dumped out of the World Cup after two comprehensive defeats to the Netherlands and Chile in their opening group games in Brazil in 2014.

Despite calls for a squad clear-out, Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso's retirement from international football are the only two major changes.

An unconvincing qualifying campaign leaves many doubters as to whether coach Vicente del Bosque has galvanised his side with enough of the exciting young talent that won two of the last three under-21 Euros.

GOALKEEPER QUANDARY

One of Del Bosque's biggest decisions will be whether to finally drop 167-cap captain Iker Casillas for Manchester United's David de Gea.

Spain's coach is one of Casillas's few remaining admirers after two poor seasons at club level which saw him finally leave Real Madrid for new horizons at Porto without recovering his form of days gone by. Casillas was also one of the main culprits for Spain's awful showing at the World Cup.

De Gea, by contrast, put his disappointment at not completing a move to Madrid behind him in August to be United's standout player for the third straight season. He has shone in his fleeting opportunities at international level.

STRIKER CONUNDRUM

Since injury and age took its toll on David Villa after the 2010 World Cup, Spain have been searching for a reliable goalscorer to complement their array of technically brilliant attacking midfielders.

Indeed, they won Euro 2012 playing without a recognised striker as Cesc Fabregas played as a false nine. In qualifying, the controversial Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata and Paco Alcacer were all given their chance, yet none of them made a convincing case to start. Costa was left out of the final squad.

The man in form is 35-year-old Aritz Aduriz of Athletic Bilbao. Aduriz netted on his return to the national team in March's 1-1 draw with Italy, but Morata may get the nod from the start in France.

aritz aduriz, getty images, soccer, spain

Aritz Aduriz of Spain vs Korea (Getty Images)

DEL BOSQUE'S FINAL STAND

The 65-year-old Del Bosque has repeatedly hinted the Euros will be his last tournament in charge having resisted calls to resign following the World Cup fiasco. Del Bosque's ability to marry together a squad of stars from rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid has proved one of his greatest assets, but his overwhelming loyalty to those who have succeeded for him in the past leave many to question whether he is capable of recreating Spain's glory days on his swansong.

SPAIN TO PAY FOR SPANISH CLUB DOMINANCE

Spain's dominance of Europe at club level cannot be questioned after Real Madrid won this season's Champions League and Sevilla the Europa League.

However, like two years ago, that success at club level allied to a tight title race between Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico could be to the national team's detriment with the majority of their squad suffering the after-effects of a more intense season than their competitors.

Read more on:    euro 2016  |  soccer
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