Euro 2012 Tactical Analysis: The Spanish armada looks to continue rolling past their opponents's Ayush Srivastava gives you a detailed analysis of what to expect when Vicente Del Bosque's side take to the field during the European Championships.....

Four years back, Spain headed to the European Championships as a talented bunch of players, but having under-performed for decades, they were not really expected to walk away with the title. However they did win the competition, and with some great football on the way to the summit, before repeating the feat 2 years later in the World Cup, to erase the under-achievers tag for once and for all.

As they gear up to defend their crown in Austria-Poland, Spain stay as the team to beat in the competition. Under Vicente Del Bosque, they have continued to play their famous Tiki-Taka style of football and in a group consisting of teams like Italy and Republic or Ireland, alongwith Croatia, their playing philosophy will be tested to the hilt.


Spain go into the Championships without Carles Puyol, which is definitely a setback for their plans, but in recent times, Sergio Ramos has stepped into the heart of defense for both club and country, and has done a fantastic job.

He will be expected to partner Gerard Pique in central defense, while Ramos’s switch to the centre and the injury to Andoni Iraola means that Alvaro Arbeloa will almost certainly start at right-back. Jordi Alba has impressed at left back, attacking with vigour and showing good positional sense in defense.

While defending, Spain follow Barcelona’s philosophy of pressing high up the pitch, holding a high defensive line.

The attacking players like David Silva, Xavi, Andres Iniesta press the opponents in their half, with such high tempo defensive tactics often forcing the opponents to commit errors.

Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets have been used together as a defensive pivot, clearing up any danger that might occur on the counter.


The injury to David Villa is perhaps an even bigger blow to Del Bosque’s plans than Puyol’s injury. Having proven his undoubted goal scoring ability and having been a handful for opponents with his movement, the Barcelona striker was the driving force behind Spain’s 2010 World Cup triumph. With Fernando Torres still looking to hit top form, Fernando Llorente usually being employed only as a Plan B and Alvaro Negredo being a relative novice at the scene, Villa’s services will be even more acutely missed.

Keeping possession and passing teams into submission is Spain’s general gameplay. With Xavi, Iniesta and Silva pulling the strings, taking the ball away from the Spanish Armada is in itself a big task.

Xabi Alonso’s expansive passing game helps bring the wider players into the game, with Pedro Rodriguez possibly an option outwide for Del Bosque, since the squad otherwise lacks proper wingers, with the likes of Juan Mata and Silva always looking to cut inside.

Who starts upfront for Spain is still to be decided. Torres and Negredo both have failed to take their chances in recent games, and a possible option for Del Bosque will be Cesc Fabregas – who has filled in for Lionel Messi last season, in the false nine position for Barcelona.

Alba from the left will provide great attacking thrust down the wing, while Alvaro Arbeloa will also look to push forward, though he does lack Ramos’s dynamism.


Strength – It is undoubtedly their midfield – both in quality and quantity. Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Alonso, Cazorla and co. are a set of phenomenal midfielders, who can dominate and overwhelm any opposing side. Any rival hoping to spring an upset, will need to conjure up a method to keep not one or two, but possibly five world class midfielders quite on the pitch at the same time.

Weakness – With just 37 league goals in between them, Del Bosque’s biggest headache is the striking trio of Torres, Negredo and Llorente. Their combined tally of goals last season is the lowest amongst the major teams in the competition, and the team’s performance against lowly China did little to assuage the doubters. With Villa missing and Soldado omitted, one of the trio will need to fire on all cylinders, else Spain might well end up packing their bags well before the final.

Opportunity – The chance to create history as the first side to win 3 major championships back-to-back is a great opportunity for Del Bosque’s side, who can with a triumph here leave no doubt about their status as possibly the greatest national team ever.

Threat – The fact that most of the main players in the team are coming off a draining club season casts a doubt whether they can implement the high energy, pressing game that Del Bosque employs. The philosophy employed by the national team is similar to that of Barcelona, whose style of play has been successfully negated by teams like Chelsea and Real Madrid, meaning that some of the sheen of their Tiki-Taka style has been taken away.


"We have a lot of pressure because we know that the optimism has become too great. The truth is there are 16 teams and it is not easy to call this a bed of roses. We are used to pressure and we will try to live up to this. There is extra responsibility here."
- Vicente Del Bosque


Placed in a group with two teams who shall try and employ the anti-Spain tactics of sitting back and defending in Italy and Republic of Ireland, Del Bosque’s side will have their mettle tested in the group stages itself. If able to pass this examination then it will be increasingly difficult to stop Spain from registering another Championship triumph.

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