Raúl González Blanco is one of the most decorated players in Spanish history. The stats speak for themselves.
At Real Madrid, he is the all-time leading appearance holder for Los Blancos, playing 741 times and also the all-time highest scorer with 323 goals.
During his time at the club, he won: 6 La Liga titles, 3 Champions Leagues and 4 Supercopa’s amongst other cups. He is widely regarded as one of the best Spanish players to ever set foot on the green grass of the football field.
At first glance, his national team record is also impressive. As well as having the privilege of captaining the side, he notched up 44 goals in 102 appearances, spanning over 3 World Cup campaigns and 2 European Championships.
But sadly Raúl never managed to achieve any trophy success with the national team. Both Spanish football fans and Raúl himself must sometimes ask, what if? Was Raúl unfortunate to have not had an even greater career at international level?
Raúl’s last appearance for the Spanish team came in 2006 and although he was beginning to get on in his career, he was somewhat unfairly ignored for national duty from then onward. It was in this period that Spain came to dominate international football, winning three major competitions consecutively; European Championship 2008, World Cup 2010 and European Championship 2012.
Before the emergence of the ‘tiki taka’ masters, Raúl had been flying the flag for Spanish footballers. He was as one of a number of brilliant individuals (another example being Pep Guardiola) who had appeared for Spain over an underwhelming period.
Yet by 2008, Spain seemed the ultimate team. Both Fernando Torres and David Villa led the line for the team and there were no complaints to be made. Yet I argue, that had Raúl been in his prime during this period, he would have been starting ahead of either of the aforementioned players. Furthermore, Raúl would have won all of those trophies with Spain and be revered as a greater player in the history books.
Coming back to the present day and Spain still represent a serious force in world football, but their striker position poses a problem. With Torres’ ability seemingly declining and Villa struggling to recover from injury problems, Spain have tried to deal with the issues by playing Cesc Fabregas as a false number nine.
Now with the German and Brazilian sides looking increasingly dangerous, the question of who should play up front presents a major dilemma.
Raúl would be perfect for the current Spanish side and it is a massive shame that he arrived on the scene just a little bit too early to be part of Spain’s golden generation.
The question of ‘What If?’ seems more relevant than ever.
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