Football

Can Spain achieve the 'impossible treble'?

Del Bosque is the man to rewrite history with Spain. (©GettyImages)
Del Bosque is the man to rewrite history with Spain. (©GettyImages).

West Germany came within a penalty shoot-out whisker of achieving the "impossible treble" in 1976, and becoming the first ever side to win two European Championships either side of a World Cup.

Now, as Vicente del Bosque named his 23-man squad for this summer's major finals in Poland and Ukraine, Spain are on the cusp of something truly special. Victory on July 1 will rewrite the record books, delivering something unrivaled, never to be seen before.

The pre-tournament favourites' odds will have dropped slightly after David Villa and Carles Puyol were ruled out of Euro 2012 through injury though. Two players that have been pivotal in the recent success of La Roja. But, often, in the face of adversity comes the greatest triumph.

Euro 2008 marked the start of the Spanish success story, after they won the competition in Austria and Switzerland before marching their way to the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup in South Africa the following summer. In 2010 they won the World Cup, and drew plaudits for their scintillating style of football, setting the benchmark for the rest of the world.

It's no coincidence that Spain's resurgence has coincided with that of Barcelona, and even more recently Real Madrid. These two sides make up over half of Del Bosque's group of players picked for action this summer.

But, after the Catalan club were knocked out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage by eventual winners Chelsea, and relinquished their stranglehold on the Primera Division title having lost out to Jose Mourinho's Madrid this year, there is a sense that the tide may be finally turning.

After a long and arduous season, outside influences such as fatigue and injury are rumoured to be creeping into the Spanish camp. In addition to Barcelona duo Villa and Puyol, there also remains doubts over the fitness of Cesc Fabregas.

Spain's biggest problem that needs immediately addressing is who can best fill the void left by the absence of their leading striker. Villa has scored 51 goals in 82 appearances for his country. Fernando Torres is the obvious choice to come in - the Chelsea frontman certainly has something to prove after a below par season at Stamford Bridge.

Alternatively, Del Bosque could turn to Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente, who netted an impressive 29 goals in 48 games for the Europa League and Copa del Rey finalists this year. And, after La Liga top goalscorer Roberto Soldado was overlooked in favour of Alvaro Negredo, there will almost certainly be an emphasis placed on the midfield to chip in with some goals, with the forward ranks lacking its natural firepower.

It's not all doom and gloom though, because the 61-year-old manager has proven time and again his tactical nous and ability to deflect attention away from his players. When questioned about the influence of squad burnout in the aftermath of Saturday's 2-0 friendly victory over Serbia in St Gallen, Switzerland, Del Bosque responded:

"The players have had an intense season but the modern footballer is an athlete. And the legs move better when there is a big incentive in the head."

The message? Motivation can become the master of fatigue. There is no doubt that on paper Spain still possess the strongest squad of individuals, and providing they negotiate their way through a group that consists of Italy, Republic of Ireland and Croatia, there is nothing to stop them from making history again this summer.

Write them off at your peril - Spain remain the team to beat.


Spain's 23-man squad in full for Euro 2012:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), Victor Valdes (Barcelona)

Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Jordi Alba (Valencia), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao)

Midfielders: Xavi (Barcelona), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), David Silva (Manchester City), Santi Cazorla (Malaga), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Juan Mata (Chelsea)

Forwards: Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Pedro (Barcelona), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla)

Topics:
Internationals
Football

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