It’s hard to know what to expect from Spain at this summer’s European Championships. After all, their results at major tournaments since winning three on the spin between 2008 and 2012 have left a lot to be desired, with the team having failed to progress beyond the last 16 in each of the last three competitions.
Coach Luis Enrique will be hoping that this is the year things change, and Spain rediscover the spirit that saw them lift two European Championship trophies and the World Cup in the space of four years. With just a couple of players from that era remaining in the squad, Spain’s hopes rest largely with a new generation. They are among the favourites in the Euros winner odds, solet’s take a look at four members of their squad who will be key to the team’s chances of success.
At the heart of defence, Pau Torres is likely to be the main man tasked with keeping Spain’s opponents at bay. Heading into the Euros off the back of a fine campaign with Villarreal which ended with Europa League glory, Torres’ stock has never been higher, and he’ll be relishing the challenge of competing at a major finals. A calm, ball-playing centre-back, Torres is the perfect defender to implement Enrique’s style of play.
With controversy surrounding the decision to leave Sergio Ramos out of Spain’s final squad, there is pressure on Torres to perform, but you’d expect him to handle the expectation with typical assuredness.
With Sergio Busquets gradually being phased out of Spain’s starting eleven, and also having recently tested positive for the coronavirus, the task of anchoring the midfield is likely to fall to Rodri, who has continued to impress at Manchester City this season. The 25-year-old is a steady pair of hands at the base of midfield, and will provide the platform for Spain’s more attacking players to strut their stuff.
Pep Guardiola is a big fan of Rodri, and he will have a hugely important role to play if Spain are to go far at Euro 2020.
It wasn’t the perfect debut season at Liverpool for Thiago Alcântara, but in the end he emerged as one of the team’s best players in a terrific late-season run of form, and he’ll head into the Euros with plenty of confidence as a result. Thiago is a master with the ball at his feet, able to pick out passes that no-one else can, and he’ll have a crucial role to play in feeding Spain’s forward players.
At 30 years of age, this tournament could be Thiago’s time to step up and deliver the kind of performances that Xavi and Andrés Iniestaproduced in helping Spain win all those trophies at the turn of the last decade.
Up front, much will be expected of Gerard Moreno, who has had a terrific season for Villarreal, including bagging a vital goal in the Europa League final against Manchester United. Having bagged 30 goals in all competitions during the 2020-21 season, Enrique will be relying on Moreno to find the net with the same frequency at the Euros.
Aged 29, Moreno has never played at a major international tournament, and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the pressure. One thing’s for sure, Spain will need him at his brilliant best if they carry hopes of winning the competition.