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Spain Euro 2020 preview - prediction, fixtures, squad, star player

:Headline: Spain Euro 2020 preview - prediction, fixtures, squad, star player:
Ahead of Euro 2020, Sports Mole assesses the chances of a Spain side looking to win the competition for a fourth time.
Sports Mole

Spain will be bidding to win a fourth European Championship - becoming the most successful team in the history of the competition in the process - when they take to the field for this summer's tournament.

La Roja have won this competition on three previous occasions, level with Germany, and will now be looking to move out alone in terms of trophies, following on from their successes in 1964, 2008 and 2012.

There is no question that Spain have underperformed in recent tournaments, exiting the 2014 World Cup in the group stage, before only reaching the round of 16 in Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Luis Enrique's squad selection was certainly controversial, and it remains to be seen whether the three-time winners have what it takes to be a real force at this summer's rescheduled championship.

Recent preparations have been far from ideal, with Sergio Busquets and then Diego Llorente testing positive for coronavirus, meaning that the Under-21s had to take to the field for Tuesday's friendly with Lithuania.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Spain ahead of Euro 2020.


GROUP

Spain have been placed in Group E with three extremely capable sides, but there is no question that La Roja will be the favourites to top the section, and it would be a monumental shock if they did not progress.

Spain's tournament opens with a potentially tricky game against Sweden on June 14, but they will be looking to put three points on the board ahead of a clash with Poland on June 19.

La Roja will then take on Slovakia on June 23 in their final Group E fixture, and it does appear to be a very open group, with all four sides certainly capable of taking points off each other.

SPAIN FIXTURES

June 14: Spain vs. Sweden (8pm, Estadio La Cartuja, Seville)
June 19: Spain vs. Poland (8pm, Estadio La Cartuja, Seville)
June 23: Slovakia vs. Spain (5pm, Estadio La Cartuja, Seville)


HOW THEY QUALIFIED

In truth, Spain hardly needed to break a sweat during qualification for this tournament, as they picked up eight wins from their 10 matches, drawing the other two, to finish top of Group F with 26 points.

Enrique's side put six straight wins on the board against Norway, Malta, Faroe Islands, Sweden and Romania to completely take control of the section, but they were held to back-to-back draws by Norway and Sweden on October 12 and October 15 respectively back in 2019.

Spain finished their campaign in spectacular fashion, though, they put seven goals past Malta before thumping Romania 5-0 to make it 31 goals and just five conceded in their 10 fixtures.

La Roja certainly had to work for some of their victories, while the successive draws away to Norway and Sweden highlighted weaknesses that certainly exist in the squad.

This is not the Spain that won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 during a period of domination, and they will have to find different ways of hurting their opponents this summer.

Enrique's squad is still full of talent, though, and a number of somewhat inexperienced players at international level will have opportunities to become stars on this stage.


RECENT FORM

Spain drew 0-0 with Portugal in a friendly on June 4 and then had been due to take on Lithuania in their final friendly on Tuesday ahead of this summer's European Championship.

The clash with Lithuania went ahead, with Spain winning 4-0, but La Roja were forced to field an Under-21 side after Busquets's positive coronavirus test forced the first team to go into self-isolation.

It is far from an ideal situation this close to the competition, but the Under-21s put in an excellent performance against Lithuania, with Hugo Guillamon, Brahim Diaz, Juan Miranda and Javi Puado on the scoresheet.

Spain are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions and have made a strong start to their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign, picking up seven points from three matches against Greece, Georgia and Kosovo, although the performances have been mixed.

La Roja have actually added 17 players to a parallel training bubble following the two coronavirus cases in their camp, and it remains to be seen what happens in the coming days, as there are still many unknowns.


SQUAD

Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), Robert Sanchez (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Defenders: Jose Gaya (Valencia), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Eric Garcia (Manchester City), Diego Llorente (Leeds United), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodri Hernandez (Manchester City), Pedri (Barcelona), Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool), Koke (Atletico), Fabian Ruiz (Napoli)

Forwards: Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Adama Traore (Wolves), Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain)


STAR PLAYER - Alvaro Morata

Busquets was originally named in this piece as Spain's star player, and the reasoning behind the choice remains, with the Barcelona midfielder the captain and most experienced individual in the squad.

The 32-year-old's participation in the tournament is now in doubt, though, and that has led to us selecting Alvaro Morata in this category; indeed, the 28-year-old is comfortably the leading goalscorer in the squad with 19 goals, and it appears that he will have a key role to play for his country this summer.

Morata impressed in Euro 2016, scoring three times in four appearances, and he knows what it takes to compete at this level of football.

The fact that there is not a standout player in the Spain squad is somewhat of a surprise considering the talent that they have been able to call upon in recent years, but Morata's experience will be key at Euro 2020, and it does appear that he will be the nation's main goal threat this summer.


MANAGER - Luis Enrique

One of the most recognisable managers at this summer's tournament, Enrique will be the man in the dugout for Spain. The 51-year-old enjoyed an incredibly successful period at Barcelona as both a manager and a player, while he first took the Spain job in 2018 before resigning in June 2019 due to personal reasons.

Following a five-month absence, Enrique was reappointed in November 2019, replacing his long-term assistant Roberto Moreno at the helm.

It has not all been plain sailing for the head coach in this position, as he has suffered three defeats from 23 matches, but Enrique is certainly doing his best to implement change.

Spain can no longer call upon the likes of Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and it is going to be fascinating to see how a relatively inexperienced squad manage to compete.

Enrique has not been afraid to make big decisions with his squad selection - notably leaving out Ramos - and the likes of Aymeric Laporte, Pedri and Adama Traore could have opportunities to announce themselves on the international stage.


EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD

Best finish: Winners (1964, 2008 and 2012)

As mentioned, Spain are the joint-most successful side in the history of the European Championship, winning the competition on three previous occasions, which is the same as Germany.

Interestingly, only France (two) have won it more than once in the list of sides below, and this summer's tournament is arguably the most open competition in recent history considering the format.

Spain's first success came back in 1964, when they beat the Soviet Union 2-1 in the final courtesy of goals from Chus Pereda and Marcelino.

La Roja's second title arrived in 2008, when they recorded a 1-0 victory over Germany in the final, with Fernando Torres scoring the only goal of the contest in the 33rd minute.

Spain's third success came in 2012, and it was a stunning final performance, as goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata secured a 4-0 victory over Italy.

Spain's last participation ended in disappointment, though, as they were eliminated in the last-16 stage of Euro 2016 by Italy, who were able to gain some revenge from their final loss in 2012.


PREDICTION

Spain's preparations have been far from ideal, but it would still be a huge surprise if they did not manage to progress through the group stages; we are expecting La Roja to top Group E, which could potentially see them take on the Czech Republic in the round of 16.

A clash with Portugal could then occur in the quarter-finals, and the last eight is where we believe that Spain's tournament will end, as this group of players is not quite ready to be serious contenders.

VERDICT: Quarter-finals body check tags ::

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last updated article - 2021-06-10 13:40:07:
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