As the EURO 2012 approaches, Extratime.ie will take an indepth look into each participating team. Ruaidhri Croke looks at the EURO 2012 Group C side Spain.
Head Coach Vicente del Bosque named his final 23 man squad for the finals on Sunday 27th May. Included was Barcelona winger Pedro Rodriquez who scored twice on Friday in the Azulgrana's 3-0 defeat of Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey final.
Both David Villa and Carlos Puyol were not included, as was to be expected as both are injured. However, former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas will be on the plane despite a thigh injury which has ruled him out for up to ten days meaning that he will miss the friendly encounter with South Korea on Wednesday in Berne.
Speaking to Marca newspaper, del Bosque said "In the case of Cesc the doctors are optimistic. We didn't believe there was any chance of not naming him.”
There are no real surprises in the Spanish squad with the inclusion of Liverpool stopper Pepe Reina meaning that Manchester United goalkeeper, David De Gea will most likely be included in the squad for the Olympics in July.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF), Víctor Valdés (FC Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Liverpool FC).
Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid CF), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Valencia CF), Álvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid CF), Raúl Albiol (Real Madrid CF), Juanfran (Club Atlético de Madrid), Javi Martínez (Athletic Club).
Midfielders: Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona), Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid CF), David Silva (Manchester City FC), Santi Cazorla (Málaga CF), Jesús Navas (Sevilla FC), Cesc Fàbregas (FC Barcelona), Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona).
Forwards: Fernando Llorente (Athletic Club), Juan Mata (Chelsea FC), Fernando Torres (Chelsea FC), Pedro Rodríguez (FC Barcelona), Álvaro Negredo (Sevilla FC).
As was to be expected Spain qualified for Euro 2012 with the usual pizzazz and beautiful football that they have become renowned for. Eight wins from eight games in qualifying makes good reading for Vicente del Bosque’s team as they head into the tournament as defending champions and favourites for the trophy.
Although they came through one of the easier qualification groups with Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania and Lichtenstein as their opponents, they did it in a very professional manner that saw them score 26 goals and concede only six.
Where do you start with Spain? Is it the supreme Iker Casillas, the ever reliable Gerard Pique, the midfield combination to die for of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta or the pace and trickery of Juan Mata?
It’s an almost impossible decision but I believe that the main man to look out for is the midfield maestro- Xavi Hernandez. Without Xavi Spain can occasionally lack that attacking inspiration that he gives them through his presence on the pitch and incredible passing ability.
He also seems confident going into the tournament as he told Uefa.com that Spain believe they “have a great generation of players" who are looking forward to "writing more history" at UEFA EURO 2012.
Although people speak of Xavi and Iniesta together it is more often than not Xavi who has the bigger effect on the game. A lot of his work goes unseen as he does the straightforward Paul Scholes-like job of playing the simple passes. However it is always he who dictates the game. If teams want to stop Spain I believe that they will first of all have to control Xavi although doing that is a completely different matter altogether.
Spain will play all three of their group games in the Arena Gdansk located in the seaside city of Gdansk in the north of Poland. The stadium holds approximately 40,000 fans and is the home venue of Lechia Gda?sk.
Spain will play Italy here on the 10th June at 6.00 pm, Ireland on the 14th June at 7.45 pm and Croatia on the 18th June also at 7.45 pm.
If they were to advance to the quarter- finals as winners of Group C they would come up against the runners-up of Group D in the Donbas Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine before competing in the semi-final in the same stadium.
Alternatively if they finished as runners-up they would play the winners of Group D in the Olimpiysky National Sports Complex in Kiev, Ukraine before playing the semi-final in the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland.
The final will be played in Kiev. Due to their three group games all being in the same place Spain will be staying in Hotel Mistral Sport, Gniewino in Gdansk. This is only a short journey from the Arena Gdansk.
- Between November 2006 and June 2009 Spain went undefeated for a record-tying 35 consecutive matches before their loss to the USA in the Confederations Cup (the record is tied with Brazil).
- Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso developed a keen interest in Gaelic Football when he came on a three week exchange trip to Kells as a 15 year old. However, contrary to popular belief he is not the only player ever to win an All-Ireland medal as well as a World Cup medal. He only played Gaelic with local lads and not on a team.
- Spain have a good record in the UEFA European Championships. They have won it twice, in 1964 (the year they hosted the tournament) and 2008 as well as reaching the final in 1984.
Spain have won four of their last five matches. Their last four games have been friendlies against Serbia, Venezuela, Costa Rica and England. They conquered Serbia on Saturday last thanks to goals from Adrián López and Santi Cazorla. Although they ran out convincing 5-0 winners against Venezuela they looked unconvincing against Costa Rica even though they fielded a relatively full team, only earning a 2-2 draw with a last minute equaliser from David Villa. Before that they were beaten 1-0 by England in Wembley in a game that Spain dominated and probably deserved more from. Their previous game to that was against Scotland in the qualifiers for Euro 2012. They managed to cruise past the Scots in this game with David Villa scoring one and David Silva claiming a brace.