Team guide: Spain

Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos and Athletic striker Fernando Llorente
Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos and Athletic striker Fernando Llorente. Photo: PA

Head coach: Vicente del Bosque

Pedigree: Spain won Euro 2008 to end years of failure to fulfil their potential, then backed up that triumph by lifting the World Cup in 2010. No international side has ever won three major football tournaments in a row but who would want to bet against such a brilliant group of players?

Euro 2012 chances: Spain will kick off their campaign as favourites and though Italy may cause them a few problems, it's hard to see Xavi and co. having too much difficulty beating the Republic of Ireland and Croatia. Complacency is perhaps their biggest enemy. That and the Germans, who will be out to avenge their semi-final defeat in South Africa two summers ago. But the defending champions will definitely miss the presence of Carles Puyol at the back and David Villa up front - both key men are injured and miss out. Can Fernando Torres rise from the ashes and fire Spain to their third major title in a row? It's a huge question.

Key man: Xavi or Iniesta? What a choice. Let us go for Andres Iniesta, who scored the winner in the 2010 World Cup Final to seal his reputation as a player of the highest class. Xavi can pick a pass better than anyone but Iniesta is the magic link between Spain's midfield and its attack - his inventiveness and movement are second to none.

Euro 2012 group fixtures: v Italy (10 June, Gdansk), v Republic of Ireland (14 June, Gdansk), v Croatia (18 June, Gdansk).


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

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

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Santiago Cazorla (Malaga), Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets (all Barcelona).

Forwards: David Silva (Manchester City), Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo (both Sevilla), Fernando Torres, Juan Mata (both Chelsea), Pedro Rodríguez (Barcelona), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao).

Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta: Spain's match-winner in the 2010 World Cup Final in South Africa. Credit: PA

Classic clip: Spain beat Germany in the 2008 Euro final, with Fernando Torres scoring the winner.

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