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UEFA EURO 2020 contenders in focus: Spain

Setting their sights on an unprecedented fourth trophy at UEFA EURO 2020, Spain are among the contenders again.

Spain celebrate winning UEFA EURO 2012
Spain celebrate winning UEFA EURO 2012

EURO pedigree

Final tournaments: 10
EURO best: winners (1964, 2008, 2012)

Arguably the continent’s strongest footballing nation in club competition, Spain's national side were seen as serial underachievers by fans and pundits during a 44-year barren spell between their first success in 1964 and their recapture of the trophy in 2008 and 2012. In winning those latter editions, they became the only side in EURO history to claim back-to-back titles.

Every goal on Spain's road to EURO 2020
Every goal on Spain's road to EURO 2020

Key players

Sergio Ramos (178 caps, 23 goals)
Spain’s lionhearted captain has been a national team mainstay since making his debut in 2005. Sixteen years on he shows no signs of slowing down and has assumed penalty-taking duties.

Ansu Fati (4 caps, 1 goal)
The forward burst on to the scene as a 16-year-old for Barcelona in 2019 and has continued to break records ever since. The youngest goalscorer in La Roja’s history, aged just 17 years 311 days, he is the second youngest player to represent Spain, and Luis Enrique will be desperate for him to recover from a knee injury in time for this summer's tournament.

UEFA.tv: Spain's EURO 2008 memories

Memorable EURO goals

Watch Spain's EURO 1964 winning goal
Watch Spain's EURO 1964 winning goal

• Two goals in the opening ten minutes made for a cagey final in the 1964 UEFA European Championship. Six minutes from time, however, Marcelino sent almost 80,000 spectators wild at Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu as he glanced in Spain's winner.

• Spain looked to be heading out of UEFA EURO 2000 as they trailed 3-2 to ten-man Yugoslavia in a must-win group stage match. Thrown a lifeline in the 94th minute, Gaizka Mendieta levelled from the penalty spot, before Alfonso Pérez struck the winner a minute later to seal their place in the quarter-finals.

• Fernando Torres's impish dink over Jens Lehmann clinched Spain's second EURO title in the 2008 final against Germany in Vienna.

Watch Spain's dramatic EURO 2000 winner against Yugoslavia
Watch Spain's dramatic EURO 2000 winner against Yugoslavia

Memorable moments

• The ice-cool Cesc Fàbregas converted the winning penalty in both of Spain’s most recent EURO shoot-out victories: 2008's quarter-final win over Italy and the semi-final against Portugal four years later.

• Spain had already beaten Russia in their opening group stage game at EURO 2008, but the Russians soon gained momentum, eliminating the Netherlands in the quarter-finals to become the tournament dark horses for many. However, when the sides met again in the semis, Spain cruised to an impressive 3-0 victory.

• Ending 44 years of hurt to claim the EURO 2008 title, the final whistle in Vienna was enough to warm anyone’s heart – unless, perhaps, you are German.

Stats

Most final tournament appearances
16: Cesc Fàbregas, Andrés Iniesta
15: Sergio Ramos, David Silva
14: Iker Casillas

Most final tournament goals
5: Fernando Torres
4: David Villa
3: Cesc Fàbregas, Álvaro Morata, Alfonso Pérez, David Silva

Killer stat: Spain are the only nation to have won back-to-back EURO titles. In between their victories in 2008 and 2012 they lifted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Alba's stunning Spain strike in 2012 final
Alba's stunning Spain strike in 2012 final

Did you know?

• Ramos could become the first player to win three EURO titles. He could also become the leading appearance-maker in international football history. On 178 caps, he is currently six behind the current record holder Ahmed Hassan, who featured for Egypt 184 times.

• Spain did not concede a goal in the knockout phases of their 2008 and 2012 triumphs.

• Their 4-0 victory over Italy in 2012 remains a EURO record for the joint highest-scoring final.

• Until their defeat against Croatia in the third group game of EURO 2016, Spain had not been beaten in their previous 14 final tournament matches: six in 2008, six in 2012 and two in 2016. However, they have lost their last two; the aforementioned defeat by Croatia and their last-16 elimination by Italy.

• Luis Enrique is one of eight EURO 2020 coaches to have also played at a EURO. The others are: Didier Deschamps (France), Roberto Mancini (Italy), Stanislav Cherchesov (USSR/Russia), Frank De Boer (Netherlands), Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine), Gareth Southgate (England) and Paulo Sousa (Portugal/Poland).

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