Euro 2012: 5 Reasons Why World Champions Spain Won't Win
In my career as a sports writer, I've never failed to go against the grain. Playing devil's advocate is my strong suit, even if it hurts.
This article’s headline is not meant as an imprecation and although I’m not superstitious, reading what I wrote makes me cringe.
Why? Because I love the Spain national football team more than any other team and I want nothing more than to see them take the Euro 2012 a second time.
Adroit as they are, they know how to conquer and conquer and conquer.
Therefore, would it not seem a natural reaction from football fans and pundits alike to say that Spain is the favorite to clench the biggest title in world football (next to the World Cup) twice in a row?
As the Euro 2012 approaches, it's logical to think that Spain, who are currently the European and world champions, will waltz in and sweep their second Euro win.
I’ll give you five reasons to think again.
5. Absence Makes the Team Less Stronger
What good is a team that's not replete? David Villa and Carles Puyol are the two notables that will be absent from the tournament due to injury.
But what seems like the team's hardship is the spectators' hardship too.
What Villa and Puyol are capable of on the pitch is well known by fans and an integral part of seeking glory.
An optimist would protest that their absences do not necessarily debase the team. Forget what is lost and focus on what's left.
In this case, I am not an optimist.
Villa, in 2010, came 1st in the IFFHS "2010's World Top Goalscorer at International Level" rankings and scored five goals in the 2010 World Cup, where Puyol also scored.
4. Split Partnerships
Breaking up is hard to do. Especially if you are Cesc Fabregas and you lack a partnership with Lionel Messi.
Regarding Messi, Fabregas has stated in FC Barcelona News, "I know him so well. I know how he plays and what he’s going to do. It's easier to be a striker with him than making the goals."
To say that Fabregas can't carry a game without his Barca teammate is not entirely true.
Fabregas has bumbled for Barcelona in what critics have called "pulling a Torres" with Lionel Messi on the pitch. And isn't that just it? As long as Messi was there, there was hope.
Now the pressure for Fabregas to perform without him has mounted.
3. Too Much Hype
Could there be too much of a sure thing, that what one adamantly believes fails to presage the schemes of an outcome?
There is a vast difference in believing one can and believing one will.
In Spain's case, I believe they believe they will. Why not? With a FIFA ranking of No. 1, the odds are 5-2.
The question is, how will they play differently this time to eclipse what teams already know about Spain's style of play?
The danger in overconfidence can lead to complacency.
Spain were favored to win the 2010 World Cup and they did, but they got off to a substandard start against Switzerland.
Comfortably sitting at the top, if they do not win their first match against Italy, they might find themselves in an ineluctable sinkhole.
2. Dark Horses in the Running
To label the Italy, France or England national football teams as dark horses may be unfair, yet nobody expected them to elicit the disasters they did in the 2010 World Cup.
Since these are the teams that should have made it, these are the teams that deserve to be ranked on.
Will the three perform World Cup encores? In my opinion, definitely not. In one way or another, they have been reformed.
Italy's current squad sports one prominent player: Manchester City's forward Mario Balotelli (with eight caps). Balotelli provided the assist that propelled Sergio Aguero to score the goal in the 94th minute that handed the Premier League title to City after 44 years.
France has a change at the helm from their 2010 squad. Manager Raymond Domenech has been replaced by Laurent Blanc.
England's squad more than filled what they lacked in the 2010 World Cup: a good goalkeeper. Now, they are armed with Manchester City's Joe Hart.
Liverpool striker Andy Carroll is an asset to the team, while there are more experienced players like Wayne Rooney.
Any one of these teams can come close to winning the Euro title; maybe not. But any one of them can also be the team that knocks Spain out.
1. Germany's Will
With a FIFA ranking of No. 2, the odds of Germany winning the Euro 2012 is 3-1.
I say they've already won.
But it has less to do with a strong side whose roster is filled with A-list players than it does with determination.
It's got to suck to be No. 2, and this time the resilient German side will seek to win what they almost gained against Spain in the 2008 competition: a trophy.
Also note that their country's beloved club Bayern Munchen came inches close to winning this season's Champions League against Chelsea FC over a failed penalty shot.
The Champions League wash-out is a better reason why they'll want to erase their second-to-best reputation.
German players Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez, to name a few, were part of that Champions League squad, and they'll seek to recover their loss through their nation's team in the Euro.
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