Spain go into the European Championship on the back of a successful qualifying campaign. They finished as group winners with 26 points, eight wins and two draws from their 10 games played. Goals have not been hard to come by, scoring the same amount of goals as their final points tally – netiting an impressive 26 times.
Their campaign has yielded many positives such as the goals of captain Sergio Ramos, many by way of his ‘panenka’ penalty party trick. Then there is the form of Fabián Ruiz, the fairy-tale return of Santi Cazorla and the goalkeeping department being solidified with the fantastic form of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Although La Roja boast a team full of flamboyant and gifted footballers, not to mention an abundance of talent not even included in their most recent call up, this is still very much a transition period for the nation. Many players have come and gone through the team like a revolving door and the jigsaw still needs to be put in place to see the bigger picture of what the full potential of this Spanish set up really is. A possible Achilles heel is no high scoring striker. However, with the likes of Rodrigo Moreno, Mikel Oyarzabal, Álvaro Morata, Paco Alcácer and Gerard Moreno, Spain have enough collective firepower to strike fear into opponents.
After the pain of the penalty shootout defeat to Russia in the World Cup last year, Spain have remoulded, reenergized and refocused to become a team to be respected by rival nations. For the fans who fancy a flutter, many bookmakers have them at either 9/1 or 10/1 and within the top six nations to lift the cup behind Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, England and the slight favourites, France. For many though, there will be more focus on La Liga betting tips with the Spanish top flight this campaign more competitive than ever.
It promises to be a wide-open tournament with many teams believing they deserve the chance to dream big and be crowned champions in UEFA’s 60th unique anniversary edition of the European Championship.
Spain will have home comforts with their opening three matches being played at Athletic Bilbao’s San Mamés stadium, such is the home away from home theme of this particular tournament alongside another 11 host cities dotted around Europe.
One major narrative heading into the tournament will be the focus on its Coach with the return to the hot seat of Luis Enrique. It has been an overwhelming period for the former Barcelona, Celta de Vigo and Roma boss who originally took the Spain manager’s hot seat in July 2018 post World Cup. After a notable period of success in his first reign, including a win against England at Wembley in his debut match, he moved aside less than a year later for personal reasons and gave up the position all together months later due to the tragic passing of his 9-year-old daughter Xana.
In very difficult circumstances, entered the fray his assistant Robert Moreno, who coped admirably with the challenging task – guiding the nation to successfully qualify with a further seven wins and two draws.
However, as president of the Spanish FA Luis Rubiales confirmed this week, there would always be a possible return for Luis Enrique in the event he felt capable and with strength to face up to the challenge to return to be Spain’s manager again. And at the end of October, he would confirm just that to his president. These talks began when Robert Moreno, who stated with grace if Luis Enrique wanted to return to his job, he would do the honourable thing and step aside, confirmed to the president that Luis felt ready to come back. That conversation started the chain of events which would lead to today and the return of Luis Enrique to his position.
The only doubt remains why Robert Moreno will not return to be his assistant, given he was sensationally sacked after Spain’s 5-0 win against Romania. At the moment, controversy, mystery and secrecy surrounds exactly what has happened for a strong friendship and professional relationship between Luis Enrique and Moreno to deteriorate so much that the former would not want the latter as part of his backroom staff again. Those doubts may be clarified next Wednesday when Luis Enrique is due to be unveiled once again as the Spain boss and will no doubt be grilled by the press on just what has gone down for this situation to come to pass.
One could argue that Moreno deserves his place at Euro 2020 for the great work of safely navigating the nation to the tournament. On the other hand, he fulfilled his word of loyalty for Luis Enrique to return to his post and that it could be a difficult scenario for Moreno to go back to being a number two with the power he had before. As football is, it is all about opinions and for all the pros and cons and what side of the fence you sit on, it is why we love football; for the debates it causes. Nothing is ever straight forward in the beautiful game and the only constant is change.
For all the doubts, the fact is Luis Enrique is back as boss, taking charge officially from 1st January on a contract which runs through to the Qatar World Cup in 2022 – personally stated by Luis Enrique as his real yardstick and barometer of his ultimate end goal to define success.
The draw for Euro 2020 takes place on Saturday 30 November in Bucharest and after that, the international talk will take a back seat until March, when Spain have pencilled in two glamour friendlies with The Netherlands and Germany to test the waters against two other historic nations with burning desires of their own to succeed.
A fascinating summer lies ahead and there is no doubt Spain possess the tools to be a success. But for all lovers of all things La Liga and La Roja, will that success come next summer and are Spain to reign supreme come all is said and done at Euro 2020?