Spanish confidence of a Euro treble rising

2015-12-11 12:45
Vicente Del Bosque (AFP)

Madrid - Still reeling from the sobering experience of being knocked off their perch at the 2014 World Cup, Spain's golden generation head to Euro 2016 seeking redemption in an unprecedented third consecutive European Championship triumph.

Coach Vicente del Bosque kept his job to the surprise of many despite the debacle in Brazil that saw the then defending world champions sent packing after just two games.

Now, in what seems certain to be his fourth and final tournament in charge of La Roja, Del Bosque is hoping to roll back the years to Spain's three consecutive major tournament wins between 2008 and 2012 with a balanced squad of decorated veterans and talented new blood.

The suddenness of Spain's fall from grace in Brazil caused a series of aftershocks. Beaten 2-1 early in qualifying by Slovakia, Spain also lost in friendlies to France, Germany and the Netherlands without even scoring a goal.

That led to outcries for more significant generational change from the ever loyal Del Bosque. Yet, ahead of Saturday's Euro 2016 draw, the mood music has changed.

Those points lost in Slovakia were the only three dropped in Spain's whole qualifying campaign. Moreover, the mesmerising passing 'tiki-taka' style that propelled their recent success was back in evidence as Del Bosque's men took revenge over Slovakia in September, winning 2-0 in Oviedo.

"This style is defined, it is what has allowed us to experience many unique things we have never experienced before," said the hero of the 2010 World Cup final Andres Iniesta.

A reserve team of Spain's next generation then won in Ukraine in October and the run of friendly defeats against Europe's upper class was ended with another impressive display in seeing off England 2-0 last month.

"The Spanish national team is always a contender for any title," said captain Iker Casillas at the launch of Spain's kit for next year's finals.

"People know that Spain has a very well-formed team and will be among the favourites for the Euros."


Spain haven't conceded a goal in a competitive game for over a year, bringing back memories of their unbreachable defence in the knockout stages in all their recent tournament wins.

Yet, a major question remains over who should ensure that run continues in France next year. Del Bosque has vacillated between his confidant Casillas and the much younger and on-form David de Gea for the past year without naming a number one.

Casillas was one of those most at fault for Spain's collapse at the World Cup and was also to blame in the defeat to Slovakia. He has even taken a step down at club level by moving to Porto after a 16-year career with Real Madrid.

By contrast, De Gea starred in the win over Ukraine and has been in sensational form for Manchester United over the past two years.

However, the sensation is that Del Bosque will once again side with those that have won for him in the past and stick with Casillas.

With Spain still boasting the most talented array of midfielders in the world, the other concern comes up front.

Since Fernando Torres and David Villa's decline, Del Bosque hasn't been able to settle on a preferred forward.

The experiment of nationalising Brazilian-born Chelsea striker Diego Costa has proved unsuccessful, while the current favourite to lead the line Alvaro Morata has just one international goal to his name.

Should Del Bosque get it right at both ends of the field, Spain still have all the other component parts to be champions again in Paris come July 10.


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