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Spain are heavily fancied for Euro 2008, but problems remain

June 9, 2008

I’m a bit worried about Spain. I’m not talking about the credit crunch, rising unemployment and the end of the housing boom here, I’m talking about their chances at Euro 2008.

When the draw took place last year, the Spanish press were celebrating that la selección had avoided the European big guns, but as the tournament has drawn near it has dawned on many that making the last 16 may not be such an easy task.

Even without Andrei Arshavin and Pavel Pogrebnyak, Russia look like dangerous opponents, Sweden have been forewarned about Spain’s strengths having come across them in qualifying, while Greece are probably a more complete and versatile side than the one that won the tournament four years ago.

Spain also cannot seem to find a place for Cesc Fabregas, one of the Premier League’s most outstanding players in recent seasons, while the team’s over-elaborate build-up play does not provide Fernando Torres with the sort of service that allowed him to have such a great season at Liverpool.

They have a talented and skilful midfield, but the team seem to have no plan B if things go wrong and they concede an early goal.

It is not a problem that Raul was left out, but I do think it was a mistake not to bring Guti to Austria and a shame Bojan is not here. The Real Madrid midfielder is the sort of player who can provide a quick pass on the break and has the vision to change the course of a game. The Barcelona prodigy could have added that edge of unpredictability to the side which makes them candidates to win the tournament.

Spain may also feel isolated and over-relaxed in their Austrian mountain retreat in Neustift, the sort of place where you expect to see a smiling Julie Andrews skipping across the hillsides.

There’s also the seemingly fatalistic slogan on the team bus: “Pase lo que pase, España siempre” (Whatever happens, always Spain) and I’m even a little negative about the fact that the majority of England fans (accustomed to experiencing so many disappointments) are reported to have adopted Spain as their team in the tournament.

So after all this, explain why Spain will cast off their reputation as perennial underachievers and win the tournament 44 years after their only previous triumph.

Comments

They won’t.

I’ve been a fully paid-up member of the ‘we won’t get past the quarters’ for some years now, which doesn’t make the pain of the unfairness of the exit in 2002 go away, but which means I was mostly indifferent at the last European Championships and World Cup. Aragonés is not tactically adept enough to win this, which doesn’t mean Spain can’t win it (after all, Greece did, last time) but it’s not going to be easy.

 

Unless individuals shine in key moments to win games consistently Spain won’t do it, talented though they are. They lack the killer instinct, the team spirit, and the defence to make it to the final. They play pretty rather than effective football and will suffer all over again

Posted by Mark Elkington | Report as abusive
 

Spain need to work out a system that brings Fabregas and Torres into the game. As an Arsenal fan, I think Fabregas is an amazing player and although I dont like Liverpool, I´ve found myself watching Torres with a smile as he waved his way throuhg the defence over and over again. If Arragones can´t get the best out of Fabregas and Torres, then he will not only be loosing to great players, but will also have a negative mental effect on the team having such players unable to work with the system.

Posted by Babs | Report as abusive
 

I know this is cheating – as I’ve just seen Spain thump Russia 4-1, but any doubts that an over-emphasis on tiki-taka were quickly dispelled with a new found directness. Where did that come from. Has Aragones been keeping it up his sleeve with the werthers?
I thouhgt we’d see the usual 90 minutes of Xavi/Iniesta/Fabregas et al stroking the ball around making triangles while forgetting that they’re supposed to be getting it to the forwards at some point in the match.

Mind you, we have seen it all before I suppose, and it won’t be long before some dastardly stroke of outrageous misfortune sends them packing in a fortnight.

 

Yes, I was really pleased to see Spain show they so have more than one string to their bow and although they came under some heavy pressure from Russia after their first goal, they read the game perfectly and played some great counter-attacking football.

After all the furore in the Madrid media about the absence of Raul it was great to see Villa prove what a deadly finisher he is.

Sweden finished behind Spain in the qualifiers but they are a more streetwise outfit than Russia and should provide a better measure of where Spain are at at Euro 2008.

Posted by Simon | Report as abusive
 

Great to see Spain counter-attacking so well. That’s been a feature of the good teams at this tournament. Defence looked a bit so-so, I thought. There may be trouble ahead, but let’s enjoy the ride while it lasts … until the quarter-finals, one assumes.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive
 

I do agree that Germany should be considered favorites, considering their footballing history, the role geography plays in this event not to mention their current form. But, despite the win they had against Poland klagenfurt and the command they exhibit over their game, I am inclined to believe current form, not statistics, and for me the Polish team were slightly overawed at their German opponents on the night which helped to nurture an innately-German professional team effort showing fine displays of game control and temporance on the ball.

Although, in a strange way, the down side of Germanys game is that when in control of the game they have a tendency to become too tightly organized, particularly in mid-field and up front, in-turn showing their weakness in creativity in those areas and offering all their opponents incentive to become disarmingly inventive. (can Germany become more flexible under the responsibility-laden Michael Ballack

Posted by Vitruvian 21 | Report as abusive
 

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