One year ago it would have been hard to imagine the prospect of Nacho Monreal usurping Barcelona's Jordi Alba as the first choice left-back for Spain, but that is now a very real possibility. Alba still currently holds the spot for Vicente del Bosque's men, but how long is that set to continue?
Whilst Barcelona are continuing to leak goals in La Liga, Monreal has arguably been the Premier League's standout left-back. In every game for the Gunners this season, the opponents' right winger has had a tough time against the Spanish international; no-one has gotten the better of the Arsenal man.
Differing playing styles
Whoever occupies the left-back position will be dependent on how attacking Del Bosque is willing to go; if he wishes to continue the aggressive passing style of his previous teams, then Alba may be a better option.
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As solid as Monreal is, Alba offers a lot more going forward. His constant runs and endless stamina are a concern for any opposition, evidenced by the goal he scored in the final of Euro 2012. There are few left-backs in the world who offer the same attacking threat as Jordi Alba.
At any other time, Alba would be the obvious choice. Spain were the kings of possession and wouldn't often need to rely on their defenders because their opponents rarely touched the ball. Now it is a bit different.
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Spain, whilst still being a fantastic side, don't possess the same ability to retain the ball like previous sides. The heartbeat of the team in Xavi and Xabi Alonso have both retired and the replacements aren't quite of the same calibre.
So now, more than ever, is a time where Spain may need to pick their defenders purely based on how well they can defend. Spain are likely to line up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Pedro or Nolito on the left - that would mean the left-back will often be left exposed on the counter attack. Should that happen, Monreal is the best at negating any threat.
Jordi Alba will have freshness on his side
Whilst the quality of the player is the prominent factor, fitness or 'freshness' are often key in deciding who should play come the Euros. That may be where Alba has the edge. Despite the fact that they will likely play more games than Arsenal, Barcelona have a much larger squad. Alba will be picked selectively by Luis Enrique, whereas Monreal will start almost every game for Arsenal.
Unfortunately for Monreal and many of the Premier League's foreign players, English football fatigues players quicker than any other league. It's for that reason that Nacho Monreal may well find himself on the bench again this summer.
Who should start for Spain at left-back at Euro 2016? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!
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