Over the past 15 years, Spain has been one of the most successful national teams in world football, collecting two European championships and a World Cup.
The Spain of recent times has become a real Jekyll and Hyde team, however, capable of amazing results like beating Germany 6-0 in the Nations League, to abysmal performances like the home draw with Greece in group qualifying.
Coach Luis Enrique has started to usher in a youth revolution, with many of Spain’s older players becoming casualties of this new approach – none more so than Sergio Ramos.
The former captain has had a distinguished 15-year career for Spain, amassing over 180 caps with more than 20 goals and, at 35 years of age, this tournament would’ve been his swansong.
With the legend of Ramos seemingly gone now forever, Spain’s issues could stem from their selection of young inexperienced centre backs.
Barcelona’s Eric Garcia, Villarreal’s Pau Torres and the recently naturalised Frenchman, Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte, all have great potential and look to be the best group of young centre backs in the tournament.
Figuring out which two of these three make the best partnership is a huge problem that coach Enrique is yet to figure out.
This could be a break out tournament for Pau Torres.
Although the La Liga campaign was a disappointment for his team Villareal, Torres ended the season on a high with the Europa League trophy. He has been heavily watched by the elite of Europe in the past season and it would not be a surprise to see a big money transfer after this tournament.
After yet another error-prone season, David De Gea has lost the goalkeeping duties to Unai Simon. Simon, 23, had a fantastic season with Athletic and is another of Spain’s young guns who could make a big money move this off season.
The selected midfield players of Thiago Alcantara, Sergio Busquets, Pedri Gonzalez, Rodri Hernendez, Koke and Fabian Ruiz are a solid blend of the new with the old and will provide a challenge to opposition teams. Another problematic issue is who to play in attack.
Ferran Torres, Dani Olmo, Pedri Gonzalez and Adama Traore look to be the next generation of Spanish attackers and, together with the experience of Alvaro Morata, Gerard Moreno andamp; Mikel Oyarzabal, there should be more than enough goals in this team.
Trying to establish which of these players will make up the front three is anyone’s guess though – as the only player who looked to have made a position his own, Barcelona’s Ansu Fati, is out of the tournament with an injury.
Spain is in Group E along with Poland, Slovakia and Slovakia and, on paper, it looks like a very straight forward group that they should win.
This current incarnation of Spain however is not consistent and what looks like a clear path out of Group E could become complicated if they start poorly. The other three teams, in particular Poland, are more than capable of making Spain’s stay in the tournament uncomfortable.
Spain has the individual quality to escape this group and then it’s a lottery for how deep they go in the knockout phase of the tournament.
Expectations are low at home as the Spanish public know Luis Enrique is transitioning this team from old to new. Euro 2020 more than likely won’t be their tournament but the with the injection of talented youth, the Spanish armada could send several warning shots for success at future tournaments.
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