EURO 2020 inside track: Spain
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
UEFA.com's Spain reporter Graham Hunter on a transitional team, Pedri's football intellect and celebrating with La Roja – and the king of Spain – in 2012.
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Group E fixtures
14/06: Spain vs Sweden (Seville)
19/06: Spain vs Poland (Seville)
23/06: Slovakia vs Spain (Seville)
Coach: Luis Enrique
Captain: Sergio Busquets
Nickname: La Roja (The Red One)
How they qualified: Group F winners (W8 D2 L0 F31 A5)
EURO best: winners (1964, 2008, 2012)
Where they could play their knockout games
Round of 16: Budapest, Copenhagen, Seville or Glasgow
Quarter-final: St Petersburg, Munich, Rome or Baku
Final 24-man squad
Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Unai Simón (Athletic), Robert Sánchez (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Defenders: José Gayà (Valencia), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Eric García (Manchester City), Diego Llorente (Leeds United), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Thiago Alcántara (Liverpool), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Koke (Atlético), Marcos Llorente (Atlético), Dani Olmo (Leipzig), Rodri (Manchester City), Fabián Ruiz (Napoli), Pablo Sarabia (Paris), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Adama Traoré (Wolves)
Forwards: Álvaro Morata (Juventus), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Pedri (Barcelona)
UEFA.com Spain team reporter: Graham Hunter
The high spot of the four previous European Championships I've worked at? At EURO 2012, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque and his senior players allowed me to come into their dressing room as they celebrated with the trophy, their families and the king Of Spain. The most tense? The penalty shoot-out victories in the 2008 quarter-final versus Italy and 2012 semi-final against Portugal. But I'd settle for either, or both, again this time. Vamos España!
How they play
Usually a 4-3-3 with a high and energetic press, attempting to control the game, but not nearly as dominant in possession as they were the last couple of times they won. Spain dislike playing against banked defences – no Iniesta or Xavi now – but against 'open' opponents they're fun to watch.
Key player: Gerard Moreno
In the form of his life, brimming with confidence and a newly crowned UEFA Europa League winner. Loves to cut in form the right onto his exquisite left foot but will often be asked to perform as a false nine this summer. Spain's chief goal threat but a No10 too.
Coach: Luis Enrique
An absolutely outstanding attacking midfielder for Sporting Gijón, Madrid and Barcelona – as well as the national team – Luis Enrique has gained such fame that he's only known by his first names! A coach committed to attacking football, his ultimate managerial triumph was Barça's treble-winning campaign in 2014/15.
One to watch: Pedri
There have been all number of prodigious young talents down the years, but few who – at 18, slender, relatively small and in only their first full season – can become the dominant midfielder at a club such as Barcelona. His football intellect is frankly incredible.
Can they win it?
Tournament football is so quixotic that it would be foolish to say no. La Roja have talent and multiple trophy winners, but they are in a transitional stage. If you watched their 6-0 demolition of Germany last year, you might say they are potential EURO winners. However, compare that to their recent, stodgy draw with Greece, then much less so. They can give anyone a good contest, however.