London 2012 Olympic Favorites: Can Spain Add Gold to Its Soccer Trophy Case?
The other 15 teams slated to play men's Olympic soccer this summer will be disheartened to hear that Spain just released its preliminary 22-man roster for the London 2012 Games.
Worse yet, said roster features three players from Spain's victorious Euro2012 squad: Juan Mata, Jordi Alba and Javi Martinez.
Layer in Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera, Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and Barcelona forward Cristian Tello, and the paper tiger only grows fiercer.
Even with the news that budding playmaker Thiago Alcantara will miss London due to injury, the sight of Spain's best must be something akin to crossing the Armada in a dark channel.
Does anyone else have a chance?
Of course they do. Brazil is flush with talent and the Olympic soccer tournament has never cared much for favorites, anyway.
But those sobering facts can hardly detract from the awe inspired by what Spain has put together.
My goodness, look at that team. Three European Champions, three Barcelona players, three Premier League studs and another young luminary, Herrera, who will ascend to those ranks some day soon.
Now the first line of skepticism regarding any talented athletic collective generally revolves around its capacity to coexist.
Don't worry, Spain has that covered, too.
This isn't some Frankenstein amalgamation of All-Star talent a la the Dream Team. The core components of Spain's Olympic roster have played and prospered together before, much like the lauded Spanish senior team many are feting as the best ever.
At the 2011 European U-21 Championships, a squad featuring Herrera, De Gea, Mata and Martinez went undefeated. The Spaniards outscored their opponents 11-2, and that was without Euro 2012 breakout star Jordi Alba patrolling the left wing.
That leaves us with just remaining one line of skepticism: Can Spain live up to the tremendous hype it will face in London and put a layer of gold varnish atop what would be one of the greatest summers in international soccer history?
They'll decide that on the field.
For now, we can only quietly wonder if Spain's future might be as brilliant as its present.
The rationale mind says no. But the eyes glance down at that preliminary Olympic roster and begin to wonder.
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