Spain have not had the ideal build-up to the Euro 2020 competition, with their captain Sergio Busquets testing positive for coronavirus and also issues regarding the team selection.
Even before the start of Euro 2020, Spain’s football team was in the news for all the wrong reasons. The omission of Sergio Ramos created a massive stir. This meant that the Spanish football team, coached by Luis Enrique, did not have a single player from Real Madrid. This is Real Madrid we are talking about. A club that has dominated European championships for decades now does not have a single-player for the Euro 2020 competition in the Spanish national team. Let that sink in.
On top of that, the build-up has also been marred by the coronavirus. Sergio Busquets, their skipper and the most experienced player in the side, has tested positive for COVID-19. With Busquets all set to miss the opening game and with issues on his fitness, Spain are on the backfoot even before they can get onto the park.
Enrique has called up five more players as backup but none of them are big names. With Spain’s Under-21 team set to face Lithuania, this is far from the ideal build-up for the Spanish Football team
Spain are the only defending champions in the history of the Euro competitions, having won in 2008 and 2012. In between, they also won the 2010 FIFA World Cup. That golden generation represented the height of the Tiki Taka football culture that had served them so well. The presence of many Barcelona players in that sides did help Spain achieve glory on a consistent basis. Now, in the current squad, there are only three players from the Barcelona side.
The core of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is also gone. There is no Diego Costa, Gerard Pique has had troubles outside of the field and Andres Iniesta has retired. However, the current team under Enrique is doing a decent job. Spain not lost an international friendly for the last couple of years.
They drew against Portugal and the Netherlands but their biggest win came against 2014 World Cup winners Germany. They thrashed them 6-0 in the UEFA Nations League match and that is probably a hint that this Spanish team has evolved from the Tiki Taka into a far more attacking team.
The squad are currently in isolation due to coronavirus. This has impacted their build-up to Euro 2020 in a big way. There are murmurs of discontent within the team. But, somehow, this team is pulling through. The recent success in the international matches puts them in a great frame of mind.
Spain are in Group E in Euro 2020. The group also involves the likes of Poland, Sweden and Slovakia. Spain are expected to sail into the round of 16 in Euro 2020 but they may face stiffer challenges in the knockout phases. With France at the top of their game and with the likes of Belgium and Germany also showing improvement, Spain have an uphill task.
The glory of 2008 to 2012 has been pockmarked with a sharp decline from 2014 to 2018. Spain have not made it to the quarterfinals in either the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups while their campaign in 2016 ended with a loss to Italy in the round of 16. The Round of 16 has been a bogey for Spain in the last seven years. This is one factor that they may want to avoid in Euro 2020.