Puyol’s injury casts doubt over Spain’s position as favourites
|BettingExpert/Betfair Euro 2012 blog correspondent entry profile|
|Sam Cooper writes for BarcaBlaugranes.com and is a match reporter for the North Devon Journal.|
|Twitter : @SamCooper07|
With Carles Puyol declared injured and unlikely to figure in the Euros, Spain have not only lost a player but they have also lost a leader. A late header against Germany in the 2010 World Cup not only sealed Spain’s place in the final but sealed the Catalan’s name in the Spanish history books. Puyol is the glue that holds this tight Spain squad together and del Bosque is forced to give his plane seat to another.
The whole of Spain sighs while the rest of Europe is delighted. The term “favourites” can often be a poisoned chalice but is the title slowly slipping from Spain’s grasp? All-time top scorer David Villa is also a major doubt for the tournament. El Guaje broke his Tibia in December and has been locked in a fitness battle ever since. For Villa representing Spain is more than just a duty, it’s his dreams. The scenario he played over and over as a kid and nothing would delight him more then to help Spain break history and become the first side ever to win three major tournaments in a row.
Barcelona’s Copa del Rey final is a proving point for Villa, del Bosque has already stated that he is willing to wait till the last minute for Villa and that surely is the final. Lose Villa and Spain lose another leader.
The attack is the main problem for the Spain coach. A misfiring Fernando Torres has shown signs of a previous life but del Bosque doesn’t choose players because of reputation. While a firing Roberto Soldado has only made one appearance for his home nation. Torres’ Chelsea team mate Juan Mata may be the key.
A 4-3-3 formation is the new 4-4-2 in Spain. Barcelona use it, Madrid use it and Spain have used it to magnificent effect during the last two tournaments. This is where Mata becomes an ideal candidate for a place in the first XI. Paired with his Premier League rival David Silva, Spain can use two wingers with a striker to create a spearhead attack. Who the striker is depends on who has hit form at the right moment, my money is on Soldado.
Drawing inspiration from Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Cesc Fàbregas could also be used as the central striker. Cesc likes to drop deep into midfield to collect the ball and showed at the start of the season that he is more than capable of finding the net.
Spain will have to play with confidence though as they face tough opposition if they want to retain their crown. Speaking to any English fan you will already be aware of the strong, young Germany side. They threw England out of the 2010 World Cup without even a second glance and have only improved since then.
Muller, Özil and Gomez have all impressed with their clubs this season. But one of the major advantages this team has is the chemistry that has been built with years of playing together. Combine that with the experience of Lahm and others, you create a deadly combination. Enough to make any side plot a potential route to the final without meeting the red, yellow and black flag.
Another contender for Spain's crowd is the Netherlands. The Dutch's trademark orange has struck fear into any side unlucky enough to be paired against them. I will use another England example to describe the potent Dutch. In a series of friendlies arranged by the English F.A, Spain, Sweden and Holland all played at Wembley. If you had told someone who was unaware of the results that England won two out of three of these ties, they would've guessed that Spain was the team that got the best of the Three Lions on their home patch. But no, it was a Robbed-Inspired Holland that left with the win.
Scoring a late winner Arjen Robben was easily the man of the match and his finish summed up Holland. Elegant even in the face of defeat, ruthless in times of despair and brutal in times of desire. The Dutch contain too much quality to be ruled out this summer. With stars like Van Persie, Van der Vaart and Arjen Robben a small wager for them to take the crown wouldn't be your worst investment of the year.
In my opinion history will be broken this summer. The red and yellow of Spain will hang over the trophy like it did four years ago. Regardless of the loss of Carles Puyol, Spain have strong leaders in Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernandez and Andre? Iniesta. The tiki-taka will flow and teams will simply succumb to the power of the reigning champions. Make sure you see it though because I predict a once-in-a-lifetime tournament.
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