Today in the 13th of 16 blogs I will take a look at a side that have always seemed to underachieve in Spain. They will play their first match of the tourney against Russia on June 10.
On June 10, Spain will set out to finally erase those demons that are always exorcised on them during the big tourneys. In European Championship and World Cup past, the Spanish have been touted with such nicknames as "The Lovable Loser's" and other embarrassing names. With so much talent, I've always wondered why the Spanish can't seem to win. After looking into it, the team is usually always good with one another (meaning they have chemistry for the most part). I think part of the Spanish's problem over the years has been the lack of luck. Let's face it, football is a game of chance and skill. Sometimes teams put you out when they shouldn't. Like Greece putting them out in the 2004 EURO in the Semi-Final stage. One other possible problem that Spain may have is the fact that they don't have a whole ton of pressure on them. England, on the other hand, is always under pressure from the FA and is probably affected negatively by this. Nevertheless, I believe the Spaniards aren't going to come out with conviction in this tourney. This is one of the best teams they've had in a while, and I think they can do serious damage to the whole entire field.
Strength- With the Spaniards you have one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb. I love the midfield that this team possesses. They are so young and they each have started to really come in to their own in their respective leagues. Xavi (Barcelona), Francesc Fabregas (Arsenal), David Silva (Valencia), and Xabi Alonso (Liverpool) are starting to really grow before our eyes. I think this team's best chance to win is right now because they are young, but not too young and they are peaking as a unit. With all this said, I think this is one of the best 3 midfields in the whole tourney. Spain know they have a huge opportunity, and I don't think they are going to waste it this time around.
Weakness- Even though this team has a lot of defenders that play for big clubs, I still feel that this defence is its one weak place. Sergio Ramos and Carles Puyol are usually good, but they rest of the team are very inconsistent in their style of play. During the World Cup in '06, they had a big problem when they faced France. France's Franck Ribery made the defence look awful with wonderful dribbling combined with criminal defence from Spain. If they play decent defence, then the offence should be able to make up for it, but you never want to take a chance in big games like these.
Player to Watch- Well, this will actually be two players to watch. David Villa and Fernando Torres are two of the best strikers in the world. In an awful season for Valencia, Villa was about the only positive thing that came from them as he scored 37 goals. Torres also carried his Liverpool side for most of the season. Without him, Liverpool would have came in 7th or 8th place. If these two play as well as possible, they will score 4 or 5 goals a match. If they play bad, then Iker Casillas is going to have to play his butt off like he usually does. So, actually my three players to watch are Villa, Torres, and Casillas.
Prediction- In a very good and tough Group D, Spain will work hard and get all 9 points and advance to the Quarter-Finals in impressive fashion.
Once again, thanks. Tomorrow, I'll look at Sweden. Until next time, it's been Keeper and I'm out.