Can La Roja Become the New Dominant Force in Football?

The golden era of Spanish football (2008-2012) will be fondly remembered, as the nation boasted an impressive World Cup trophy alongside two European championships during this stretch. But with a considerable dip in form over the last decade, a resurgence is needed.  

Under the tutelage of Luis de la Fuente Castillo, a rebuild has begun, and with the 2023 UEFA Nations League trophy obtained, Spain’s trophy drought ended as we’re asking the question: Will La Roja become a new dominant force in football?  

Spanish National Team: Quick History  

Established in 1920 with the primary aim of participating in the Olympic games of that year, Spain entered the football arena as the 28th nation to partake in a match, where they secured a 1-0 victory over Denmark. This game marked Patricio Arabolaza as the first player to score an international goal for Spain. However, their journey in the Olympics concluded with a silver medal, as the hosts and eventual champions, Belgium, defeated them. Subsequently, the onset of the Civil War and World War II hindered Spain’s football progress until the World Cup qualifiers in 1950.  

As the 20th century drew to a close, Spain became a regular contender in major tournaments. Despite their success in the 1964 European Championships, they had not been able to claim a trophy. The team was frequently seeded in significant tournaments, reflecting their advancement as a footballing nation. Despite possessing a formidable squad including Raul, a young Iker Casillas, and Josep Guardiola, Spain was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2000 Euros by the eventual champions, France. 

In the 2010 World Cup, Spain reached the knockout stages without conceding a single goal on their way to their first historic title. They secured 1-0 victories over Paraguay and Portugal, with both goals stemming from the feet of David Villa. The semi-finals produced an identical scoreline, but Puyol netted the game-winner. The finals against the Netherlands were notably physical, with a staggering 14 yellow cards issued to players from both teams. But in the end, Spain claimed victory with a 1-0 win in extra time, courtesy of a winning goal from Iniesta.  

Following a convincing 2-0 victory over France in the quarters, defending their European championship became a huge possibility. Spain faced a difficult test in the semi-finals versus Portugal. Despite Portugal creating numerous goal-scoring opportunities, Spain held firm and advanced on penalties. In the finals, a familiar foe in Italy resulted in Spain taking full control from the start, ultimately winning 4-0 and becoming the joint most successful team in European Championship history. 

The Tiki-Taka Play Style  

Spain’s success in international football from 2008 to 2012 was remarkable not only for its achievements but also for how they were attained. Under the guidance of Luis Aragones in 2008 and later Vicente del Bosque in 2010 and 2012, Spain perfected the tiki-taka football style, a tactical approach that transformed modern football.  

Defined by a focus on ball possession, rapid passing, and movement to outmanoeuvre opposing defences, Spain captivated the world with a display of artistic and technical football rarely seen at the international level. 

The End of an Era  

It didn’t matter which country you stemmed from; when discussing the world’s greatest, Spain would be regarded as a top-three team in the world. Avid supporters of the sport would regularly place the Spanish team in their bets and accumulators without hesitation. 

However, while Spain was an easy prediction to utilise alongside an in-depth guide to the best betting sites, times began to change. After winning two consecutive European Championships, with a World Cup in between, Spain joined France (2002) and Italy (2010) as defending champions who were previously eliminated in the group stage of the competition.  

It was dubbed ‘The End of an Era’, and with the likes of Iniesta, Casillas, Xavi, Torres, and Villa reaching the latter stages of their career, it wasn’t just the tiki-taka play style that had peaked.  

A New Era in Spanish Football   

After several managers and countless disappointments, Spanish football has seemingly returned to an elite level.  

Luis de la Fuente, the coach of Spain, has successfully gained support from his critics. Despite initial scepticism when he was appointed nearly a year ago, De la Fuente now enjoys widespread approval as the leader of La Roja.  

Under his guidance, Spain has emerged as a strong contender and comfortably secured a spot at Euro 2024. Having been part of the Spanish football scene for a decade, De La Fuente is well-versed in their preferred style of play. This extensive experience has given him an up-close view of the team’s past failures.  

Additionally, he has played a role in the development of several players who are expected to lead the team into a new era, thereby forming strong opinions on what is needed to address Spain’s challenges. 

Spain’s Results Under Luis de la Fuente: 

Date   Home Team  Score   Away Team  Competition 
25 March, 2023  Spain   3-0  Norway  Euro Qualifiers 
28 March, 2023   Scotland   2-0   Spain   Euro Qualifiers  
15 June, 2023   Spain   2-1   Italy   Nations League Semi-Final  
18 June, 2023   Croatia   0-0 (4-5 Pens)  Italy   Nations League Final  
8 September, 2023   Georgia   1-7  Spain   Euro Qualifiers 
12 September, 2023  Spain   6-0  Cyprus   Euro Qualifiers  
12 October, 2023  Spain   2-0   Scotland   Euro Qualifiers 
15 October, 2023  Norway   0-1   Spain   Euro Qualifiers 


We aren’t suggesting that De la Fuente’s on track to repeat the success of Del Bosque, but there’s no denying the change in Spanish international football since his arrival, with seven wins and one loss to date.  

The 62-year-old De la Fuente took over from Luis Enrique following the team’s loss to Morocco in the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar. He was relatively unknown in Spain then, despite having spent years coaching the nation’s youth squads.  

In his first match in charge, Spain struggled to a home win in a qualifier against Norway, and the subsequent loss to Scotland quickly raised doubts about De la Fuente’s suitability for the role. However, he later guided Spain to victory in the Nations League, with notable wins over Italy and Croatia. The team also won convincing against Georgia and Cyprus in qualifiers and secured its spot at Euro 2024 after defeating Scotland. 

It’s too early to guarantee success, but Spanish football is unquestionably moving in the right direction. With a breath of fresh air arriving in the form of youth talent, in unison with experienced playmakers, and the determination from De La Fuente, the future of the Spanish national team is bright.  

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