Luis Aragones leads his men into the Finals looking to end 44 years of hurt, and on paper the Spanish team is certainly one to be feared. The departing manager has put together a fine side who improved steadily as qualification for the Euros progressed, winning eight of their last nine games to book their place in Austria and Switzerland with a game to spare.
Impressive friendly victories over France and Italy illustrated Spain’s defensive strength, built largely on the talents of Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Carlos Puyol and Sergio Ramos at the back. Spain have arguably three of the finest creative midfielders around in Cesc Fabregas, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, while Fernando Torres and David Villa will look to provide the thrust that brought six goals between them at the 2006 World Cup.
Yet Spain have often flattered to deceive on the big stage, with their home victory in the 1964 European Championship their only trophy of note. That 2-1 win over the Soviet Union in Madrid under Jose Villalonga was the last time Spain made an impact on the international stage for 20 years, when they finished runners-up to France at Euro ’84. They have since coupled impressive qualifying campaigns with lacklustre displays at the Finals, with the 3-1 second-round defeat to France at the 2006 World Cup typical of their disappointing campaigns.
But with the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres, Spain will feel they have a real chance this year. The England-based duo have had fine seasons and will provide a real cutting edge. Fabregas has been at the heart of an Arsenal side that swept all before them in the early stages of the season, and the PFA (Professional Footballer’s Association) Young Player of the Year will provide the ammunition for Torres. Rarely in need of a second invitation to score, Torres is the complete striker, combining blistering pace, agility and aerial ability with an unerring knack of finding the bottom corner. With those two in harness, it is easy to see why Spain are many pundits’ tips for the title.
Spain Euro 2008 Squad
Head coach: Luis Aragonés
Back to Euro 2008 Squads.
More Euro 2008 Information.