Euro 2016 Team Guide: Spain target historic treble

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Vicente del Bosque's charges are heading to Euro 2016 chasing a remarkable hat-trick of titles but their era of continental dominance will be fully tested this summer

Coach: Vicente Del Bosque

Key player: Sergio Busquets

Qualifying form: W9, L1, D0

Top scorers in qualifying: Paco Alcacer (5), David Silva (3)

Spain will chase an unprecedented third consecutive European Championship title in France but they do not arrive at the finals as the dominant force that so memorably dispatched Italy to win Euro 2012.

Vicente del Bosque's side stormed to a 4-0 win in the final in Kiev, becoming the first team to win three straight major international tournaments following on from their triumphs at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

However, the cracks that first started to appear when hosts Brazil handed them a 3-0 defeat in the final of the 2013 Confederations Cup were brutally exposed 12 months later, as a humiliating World Cup defence ended after just two matches.

A 2-1 loss to Slovakia in their second Euro 2016 qualifier suggested the scars of that World Cup experience might continue to cause pain, although from that point their progress was otherwise unblemished.

Nevertheless, the problems brought into focus by memorable World Cup reverses against Netherlands (5-1) and Chile (2-0) still do not appear to have been adequately solved.

Indeed, the apparent coup of persuading Diego Costa to pursue his international career with Spain rather than Brazil has proved a misadventure. The Chelsea star scored just once in his first 10 appearances and was left out of the preliminary squad.

Paco Alcacer was the top Spanish scorer in qualification but the 22-year-old has also failed to make the cut after his form towards the back end of the season tailed off with Valencia.

Alvaro Morata has all the skills but remains an inconsistent presence at Juventus, meaning 35-year-old Aritz Aduriz might be the best option to spearhead Spain's attack after a phenomenal campaign with Atheltic Bilbao.

In midfield, Spain's lavish assortment of playmakers continues to be the envy of Europe and Del Bosque, who plans to leave after Euro 2016, will leave out many who would walk into other national sides.

David Silva and Cesc Fabregas can unpick the most tightly locked defences, Andres Iniesta will make things tick in the manner of his old ally Xavi, while Barcelona colleague Sergio Busquets is now the fulcrum for club and country.

Spain's lacklustre display in March's 1-1 friendly draw against Italy without Busquets underlined how pivotal his midfield anchoring role will be in France.

At the back, advancing years and an occasional tendency for mistakes could further test the uneasy truce between Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, although the Real Madrid and Barcelona centre-backs remain elite operators.

Del Bosque has a decision to make in goal between Iker Casillas and David de Gea, the latter of whom has been persistently brilliant for Manchester United this season.

The upside for Spain fans is that, even with the signs of their waning power, on their day the champions are still capable of beating anyone.

Spain will start their defence against Czech Republic, before taking on Turkey and Croatia in Group D.

Progress from that pool looks the minimum they can expect, but a run to the final, and ultimate glory, might be trickier this time around.

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