Spain could be first back-to-back European champion
Four years have rolled on since Euro 2008 and the footballing landscape hasn’t changed. Sepp Blatter is still in charge, there is still tension inside the Italian camp and Spain is still on top of the world.
If these patterns are set to continue then we will be crowning Spain as the first ever back-to-back European Champions.
Over 13 editions since the tournament’s inception in 1960, no team has been able to win successive titles. History is against the Spanish.
But with good lead-up form, a favourable draw, and a strong squad, the defending champs will be hard to beat this time around.
Spain is placed in Group C, with Italy, Northern Ireland and Croatia. Only one of those opponents is ranked inside the world top 10.
The world champs narrowly avoid the group of death, Group B, which has European heavyweights Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands squaring off for two positions.
If results go their way, Spain will have one less serious contender come the business end of the tournament.
But Spain has been in blistering form heading into the tournament, going through the qualifying stage undefeated.
The defending champs followed that up with wins in their past four friendlies, including a 2-0 victory over European strugglers Serbia.
It’s no coincidence their impeccable form has coincided with their exquisite playing roster.
Spain is fielding a very strong squad, with most of their 2010 World Cup-winning side in attendance, minus star striker David Villa.
Villa’s replacement will have big boots to fill, but with the likes of Casillas at the back, Iniesta in the midfield and Torres up front, Spain will be more than capable of maintaining the attacking potency Villa delivers for the European powerhouse.
It will not be all smooth sailing for the Spanish, who drew 1-1 with the Italians in their opening game. The Azzuri, based on their potential, are also serious contenders for the title.
It is just the rifts between the players, coaches and administration which draw the team away from realising their ability.
But the Italians step up for the big occasions.
In 2008, the Azzuri were the only team to take Spain past 90 minutes, so the defending champs will know they have their hands full.
Once past the group stage, Spain will have to overcome fellow European heavyweights Germany and France.
Below the heavyweights is the smoky, Russia, who like Greece in 2004, will thrive carrying the underdog tag and upset one of the heavyweights, which could well be Spain.
Spain will have to overcome many obstacles if they are to retain their crown and become the inaugural back-to-back European champions.
Their 2012 campaign will be threated by the Germans, Russians and Italians, but this isn’t going to be a repeat of World War II.
History is not on their side, but other factors are enough to make one believe they will become the first-ever back to back champions in 2012.