Spain ready to erase World Cup memory

Andres Iniesta (AFP Photo)
Andres Iniesta (AFP Photo)

Madrid - There will be more than another title at stake for Spain at the Euro 2016. The two-time defending champion will be playing to re-establish itself as a dominant force in the game.

Spain was the team to beat after winning consecutive European Championships in 2008 and 2012, along with the World Cup in 2010. But its shock elimination in the group stage of last year's World Cup raised doubts about its supremacy.

Many said the elimination in Brazil marked the end of an era, but several of the stars who helped La Roja thrive in the last few years will to try to bring the team back to the top in France.

Although the likes of Carlos Puyol, Xabi Alonso, David Villa and Xavi Hernandez have ended their international careers, Andres Iniesta, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and David Silva will still want success in what could be their last tournament with the national team.

"We are undergoing a generational change," said Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, who also could be leaving after Euro 2016. "But we have a lot of good players to choose from for next year's tournament. It won't be easy to pick only 23 players."

One of Del Bosque's difficulties may be choosing his forwards, as Diego Costa has been struggling and several strikers are thriving locally. Valencia's Paco Alcacer was the leading scorer in qualifying with five goals and will be a contender for the starting lineup.

Spain qualified first in Group C with 27 points from nine games. Its only loss was at Slovakia.

Here is a look at Spain's top three players and its coach, Del Bosque: 


One of the pillars of Spain's dominant squad in recent years - and not just for scoring the only goal of the 2010 World Cup final with the Netherlands - Iniesta will be carrying most of the load in the midfield after the retirement of Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez. The Barcelona star will be key if Spain wants to win yet another European trophy. 


The goalkeeper is Spain's most capped player with 165 appearances and should be the starter next year despite a challenge by David De Gea. Casillas has remained Del Bosque's favorite even after transferring from Real Madrid to FC Porto this year, and will be looking to make up for his disappointing World Cup performance in Brazil. 


Spain's defense has been outstanding in recent year with Ramos and Gerard Pique playing side by side in front of Casillas. Ramos has been bothered by a lingering shoulder injury that kept him out of a few games this year, but he should be fully fit by the time the European championship begins. 


The coach who led Spain to its first World Cup title in 2010 still hasn't officially announced what he will do after Euro 2016. But he has hinted that it could be his last tournament. The 64-year-old Del Bosque said recently it "wouldn't be bad" for Spain if he leaves, because then new ideas would be put in place.

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