Spain are the reigning European champions and they endured quite an atrocious FIFA World Cup. The question is, are they still a force to be reckoned with?
David de Gea
Mikel San José
Munir El Haddadi
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Spain no longer have that fancy allure of 4 years ago. Their magic spell disappeared when they were surprisingly eliminated from the 2014 FIFA World Cup in the group stages. However, champions are frequently more dangerous when the odds are against them.
Most bookmakers would not bet that Spain is going to win the European Championship a third consecutive time, having already made history in 2008, 2010, and 2012. Vincente del Bosque has quite an old squad and the advancing years can be a problem. Recent stodgy friendly draws with Romania and Italy did little to uplift the optimism, yet when considering the habit of winning, lot of things can happen.
It took Spain a few decades of underachievement following their UEFA European Championship triumpf in 1964 to become a dominant force in the international football world.
UEFA Euro 2008 represented a huge milestone in Spain's evolution. It marked a 1-0 final victory against Germany, followed by their first FIFA World Cup win 2 years later. Vicente del Bosque's squad became the first European country to lift that prestigious trophy outside their own continent.
Spain continued to make history at UEFA Euro 2012 when it crushed Italy 4-0 in Ukraine, although their FIFA World Cup defence ended quite rapidly two years later. Spain are now trying to defend the Henry Delaunay Cup this summer in France after topping the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying group with 9 wins out of 10 matches.
Spain waited decades to win another European Championship in 2008, when then Luis Aragones' side defeated Germany to win a competition they had taken by storm. The key player was Fernando Torres as he marked the golden goal and in 2012 he became the first player to score in two different EURO finals.
The final from 2012 against Italy was staggering - Spain marked four goals from Jordi Alba, Juan Mata, David Silva, and Torres. Before 2008 Spain had only reached the semi-finals once - as they finished runners-up in 1984. Their first major prize was in Madrid in 1964 against the Soviet Union when Martinez Marcelino headed a memorable goal just 6 minutes from time after Khusainov had quicklu cancelled out Jesus Pereda's 6th-minute opener.
1st of July, 2012: Spain vs Italy 4-0, UEFA Euro 2012 final - Spain answered their many critics in style, crushing the Italian team.
29th June 2008: Spain vs Germany 1-0, UEFA Euro 2008 final - Fernando Torres' strike was enough to end Spain's stunning 44-year wait.
21st June 1964: Spain vs Soviet Union, 1964 UEFA European Championship final - Luis Suarez surprised everyone.
Who will score for Spain? Del Bosque chose the best possible options for this tournament, leaving out Paco Alcacer (their top scorer in the qualifying stage) and Diego Costa - while electing not to pick Fernando Torres. Alvara Morata is Juventus' striker and it seems that he will lead the line, but this season he only scored 12 goals. Vicente Del Bosque is extremely confident in this striker, but Spain still seems to lack the firepower.