The best Spanish side ever - clear favorites to win
Hello all, I think I'll drop in regularly during the tournament. Looking forward to it, yeeee haw.
Anyway, to the point. Those of you talking up Germany, speculating about Spain being fatigued, wondering about the impact of Villa and Puyol missing... let's lay all these things to rest once and for all.
We're witnessing the best Spanish NT ever in 2012, and one of the best NT in the history of the sport.
Football is a funny old game, where anything can happen and anyone can have a good or bad game or even a good or bad tournament - that's one thing we love about the sport, and you German, Dutch, French etc supporters should be more grateful about it than ever. For if this were another sport, like Baseball or Basketball, where the quality of a side's players is the defining attribute, then it would be a simple cakewalk.
Let me debunk one by one the tired arguments used by the heart to try and convince the head.
Spain will be fatigued. Bollocks. Why would Germany, the favorite of so many, be any less fatigued? I don't quite understand why. Did the German season end months before the Spanish season? No. Did not a German team (providing a host of players for the NT) play until the CL final? Did said side not also play the entire German cup? Did not the other side providing most of Germany's players also have a long league campaign and play the final of the cup? If you argue Real Madrid and Barcelona had long seasons, why not Bayern and Dortmund? And there are two probable starters for Germany who play for Real Madrid. If you were to go over the numbers I'd be surprised if Spain's players played many more matches than Germany's. It's a ridiculous argument.
Spain are getting old. Germany/whoever are young and eager. Bollocks part II. Germany has the youngest team in the tournament, true. An average of 2.2 years younger than Spain. You discount Spain's goalkeepers - all at or over 30, and this negligible difference is reduced even more. In fact, Spain's average age is 26.7, which makes it the 6th youngest team in the tournament. In the 2 years since WC 2012 Spain's squad has on average aged only 1 year. They are far from old, they're in their prime. The only reason they aren't younger is because the very young players such as Muniaín, T. Alcántara, Beñat etc - many of whom would get into any other NT - have been left at home because Spain simply has so much talent aged 23-30. Truly a golden generation.
Spain won too much, they aren't as hungry as Germany/whoever. Infantile argument. It's funny to see people, even professional sports pundits, make the following self-defeating argument: Bayern players finished 2nd in the league, lost the cup final, and lost the CL final. They will be hungry for success. Barcelona players finished 2nd in the league and were eliminated in the CL semis - they are burned out. Barcelona not winning any major titles this year (for me, there are only 2 major titles a club can win) should serve as a bit of a wake-up slap in the face for their players, which is good news for Spain. And on top of all that, this side has the opportunity to be the first in the history of the game to win 3 major tournaments on the run. I.e. to go down in history as the best of the best. How's that for motivation? In 2008 Spain were good, but they were bottlers. In 2010, Spain were good, but no European team could win outside of Europe. In 2012 Spain were good, but no team has ever won 3 in a row.
No, Barcelona (and Real Madrid) players will be very hungry for success indeed - as hungry as anyone else, and with the confidence to back it up.
Spain will suffer, it lost two vital players in Villa and Puyol. Erroneous. About their defense, S Ramos has evolved into a world class centerhalf, after a stellar year. Pique also seems to be on the up after a dip in form this year, just in time for the Euros - I'd take a Pique-Ramos central pairing over, well... any other pairing in world football right now.
But if Ramos is in the center, what about the fullbacks? If anything the only player ever approaching average in Spain's previous tournament-winning sides was Capdevila, though he did his job, while Ramos excelled at right back - this year his equivalent could be Arbeloa, a solid if distinctly unspectacular player, but Jordi Alba is a marked improvement, so Spain is more or less where it was before. And there's also the possibility of playing Javi Martinez at center-back, and moving Ramos back to the right. A back four of J. Alba-Pique-J. Martinez-Ramos? Don't mind if I do...
Weak up front without Villa? Spain in my opinion was never particularly well-stocked - it is a team that has never needed a truly world-class striker on top of his game, a la fat Ronaldo, to win the game for them, although Villa occasionally had his moments (normally fizzing out at the business end of the tournament). Torres has been absolute crap for Spain since long before the last World Cup so that's nothing new, Villa's form had been dipping prior to his injury (he is 30, and we know strikers have shorter shelf-lives), whereas Llorente has made massive strides since WC2010, and Negredo had a fantastic run-in to the season and arrives in fine form.
There's very little difference between this Spain side and the side 2 years ago, in fact, Spain is arguably stronger than in 2010. Many of the key elements are still performing at a very high level: Xavi, Iniesta, Casillas, Ramos, Xabi Alonso; others seem to be recovering form after previous dips or injuries: Pique, Pedro, Torres; and others who were only bit-part players or not involved in 2010 have improved enormously: Llorente, Javi Martinez, Jordi Alba, Juan Mata, David Silva.
Germany/Netherlands will be looking to get revenge against Spain. Yeah ok. Did you see the last games they played? Germany played off the pitch in successive matches? Netherlands only avoiding humiliation thanks to the most permissive ref a major tournament final has ever seen? Think again.
Anyway, it all kicks off tomorrow, and over the next few weeks we'll see some stellar matches: Spain-Italy, Germany-Netherlands-Portugal playing each other, France murdering England, and of course the knockout rounds, etc. Fantastic stuff I'm sure.
So may the best team win!! And by that of course, I mean Spain.
Signature in 2007: Raúl, por el bien del Madrid, y por no tener a todo el Madridismo odiandote, por favor, vete ya
Signature in 2012: Torres, por el bien de España, y por no tener a todo el país odiandote, por favor, vete ya