Written by a guest blogger.
Are Spain reverting to type? Given the recent successes of the Spanish national team, it’s easy to forget that they were historically underachievers. They always had great players yet failed to deliver when it mattered most. But then they won the World Cup and Euro Championship, and the curse seemed to be broken for good. Only, perhaps those victories were more of an exception than a new rule.
They haven’t performed well at a major tournament for a while now, and things haven’t gotten off to a great start at Euro 2020. That’s not to say that they can’t turn things around and lift the trophy. If there’s one thing that everyone should remember more often, it’s that you don’t win tournaments during the group stage!
But victory will take monumental effort. In this blog, we’re going to run through what Spain must do if they’re going to lift the trophy at Wembley on July 11.
If there were one area where you would not expect Spain to struggle, it would be in front of goal. That would be like Italy struggling in defence. It’s possible but out of sync with history. Yet, that’s just where Spain currently find themselves. For the first time in a long time, there’s no Spanish player in the top five players with the best odds of being the top goalscorer at Euro 2020. There’s a lot of pressure on Alvaro Morata’s shoulders, and so far, it’s looking too much for the Juventus player to handle. There’s still time for him — and the other Spanish attacking players — to find their goal-scoring capabilities, but they better find it soon.
Find Some Confidence
Spain have never been as confident as, say, Brazil, but they were a lot more confident than most other sides. Anyone would be if they had the list of players that Spain could boast! Yet, that seems to have fallen off a cliff at the moment. They’re not playing in fear exactly, but they haven’t got the swagger that you would expect a Spanish team to have. Part of the reason for this could be the general lack of experience in the squad. You have to wonder if Enrique regrets leaving out Ramos, who would surely have had a thing or two to say when the going got tough.
Fans on Their Side
You need some unity when you’re in pursuit of a common goal. Spanish fans have historically been a good source of inspiration for the national side, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment. The fans have not exactly turned against Enrique and his players, but their patience is running thin. Unfortunately, the only way to get fans back on your side is to play well. It doesn’t even matter if you lose (well, at least not as much), provided you’ve done justice to the shirt. Fans are calling for players to be put in, players to be pulled out, and for Spain to begin playing like Spain. It’s not an entirely unreasonable request.
Pack the Midfield
If Spain are going to make it to the final, or at least not leave the tournament way earlier than they should, then they need to play to their strengths. And there’s no doubt that, just as with years done by, their biggest strength is their midfield. In Thiago, Rodri, and Koke, they have a midfield to match any in Europe. And then they also have Busquets and Pedri, too. When you have such an embarrassment of riches in the middle of the park, it wouldn’t make sense to play any other way. Get the ball to midfield, let them pass the opposition to death, and get it into the dangerous zones.
Plug the Weak Spot
We mentioned earlier that Spain need to get scoring, and that’s true. But they’ll figure out where the goal is eventually. The bigger problem they might have is at the back. Their defensive line isn’t as strong as it could be, or at least, it’s not as experienced as it could be. The two centre backs have undoubted quality on their side, but Laporte and Torres have not played all that much together, or indeed, all that much for Spain. Laporte was playing for France up until a month ago. The best approach for making sure that they’re not found out defensively by the better sides is to, again, play to their strengths. If the midfield has the ball, then there won’t be all that much defending to do anyway.
Other Teams Stuttering
We’re talking about the difficulties Spain will have in winning the Euro championship. But it’s worth remembering that there isn’t any side that has hit tournament-winning form yet. France were widely touted as champions-elect, but they’ve so far failed to deliver. There’s every chance that they will get it together, but this is France we’re talking about, so there’s no way to say for sure. Another contender, England, can not be considered a serious threat, at least not at this stage. Italy, Germany, and Belgium do look to be getting into their stride, however.
Luck on Their Side
You can’t rely on luck to win a football tournament for you, but it sure can lend a helping hand. With the use of VAR, there’s every chance that Spain will be the recipient of a fortunate decision at one stage or another. But then, the opposite is also true. In any case, if Enrique is relying on technology to save his reputation, then he’s got big problems.
The best approach, we think, would be to simply go all in and see what happens. No one’s loving the Spain performances at the moment, and especially not the players. If they can wipe the first couple of games from their memory and start afresh, then that might give them the spark of life that they’ll need if they’re going to win the tournament. Whether that happens is another matter. Let’s see!