Predicting the Spain Squad for the 2016 European Championships

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2014

Predicting the Spain Squad for the 2016 European Championships

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    Spain's disappointing World Cup shouldn't be used as a reason to abandon their playing philosophy or style.

    La Roja's recent tournament record is phenomenal, and although they failed to live up to expectations in Brazil there's still plenty to be excited about.

    This is the end of an era as a number of players retire from the national set-up with more sure to follow.

    Unlike the other countries that faced early elimination, Spain arguably has the resources to do better straight away, but Vicente del Bosque's loyalty to his seniors has cost him.

Goalkeeper: Victor Valdes

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    The sweeper-keeper will be 34 by the time the next tournament comes around.

    He's currently without a club after his Barcelona contract finished, but one of the world's top teams will snap him up this summer.

    After sitting in Iker Casillas' shadow for so long, he will want to play in one last competition before he stands aside for a younger model.

Goalkeeper: David de Gea

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    Manchester United's shot-stopper has the credentials to be Spain's first-choice for years to come.

    After a difficult first season in England, he became their best player last term and is likely to continue his ascent.

    The experience of travelling to Brazil should put him in good stead, despite the poor displays around him.

    He will believe that he can start the opening match in France, such is his confidence.

Goalkeeper: Sergio Asenjo

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    The Villarreal goalkeeper made 15 appearances for the Spanish U21 team, but his progress has stalled a little since.

    His five years at Atletico Madrid saw him make only slightly more, with David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois blocking his route to a regular jersey.

    He helped Villarreal to sixth last year in their first season back in the top flight and should continue to improve now that he has made his move permanent.

Defender: Cesar Azpilicueta

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    The Chelsea full-back has shown his flexibility and persistence to dislodge Ashley Cole as Jose Mourinho's preferred left-back.

    It's been a similar situation with the national team, as he replaced Alvaro Arbeloa on the right side of defence to hold down the spot.

    The former Marseille and Osasuna defender has played under some of the world's top managers, and it's beginning to show that he's a good learner.

Defender: Jordi Alba

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    When it comes to attacking left-backs Jordi Alba is as reliable as they come.

    The fact that Del Bosque didn't even take a reserve to Brazil was a sign of a number of things, including the lack of strength in the position, Azpilicueta's adaptability and his faith in Alba.

    At Barcelona he will fight for major titles, and in two years' time he will be more accomplished than he is currently.

Defender: Sergio Ramos

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    The Real Madrid centre-back was given a torrid time by the pace of Arjen Robben and Alexis Sanchez during the World Cup.

    It would be easy to conclude that Spain's defence let them down and that it's time to seek alternatives, but in the last six months Sergio Ramos was outstanding.

    The tournament hasn't been a success for Ramos or club teammate Pepe, but he will come back stronger in two years as a senior member of the squad.

Defender: Gerard Pique

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    Shakira's other half has had to adapt to life without his friend Carles Puyol at both club and international level.

    His partnership with Ramos doesn't come naturally, but the last European Championship shows that they can combine together effectively.

    The two are expected to be working in tandem in France, and with a point to prove they will probably make the doubters regret their words.

Defender: Daniel Carvajal

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    Daniel Carvajal enjoyed a tremendous campaign at Real Madrid on his return from Bayer Leverkusen and was unlucky not to have been included in the World Cup squad.

    His adaptability across the back line could prove invaluable in future years.

    He should get better as he gets used to the demands of playing for arguably the biggest club on the planet.

Defender: Alberto Moreno

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    The left-back was part of the provisional squad for Brazil but didn't make the final cut.

    His performance in the Europa League final against Benfica wasn't one of his best, though he was outstanding throughout the rest of the season.

    Alberto Moreno's on-off move to Liverpool looks set to rumble on, per James Pearce in the Liverpool Echo, but he will maintain his progression regardless of where he plays his football.

Defender: Inigo Martinez

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    It would be very surprising if Inigo Martinez is still in the Basque Country by the time the Euros arrive.

    The Real Sociedad centre-back will surely move to a club with regular Champions League football and alongside more international players.

    Martinez's concentration levels and ability with the ball should see him provide stiff competition for Ramos and Pique in the near future.

Midfielder: Javi Martínez

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    Bayern Munich holding midfielder Javi Martinez seems to benefit from squad selections, but not necessarily team ones.

    He's a useful commodity as he can play as both a deep-lying midfielder and a centre-back, though that does sometimes count against him maintaining a permanent starting role.

    His blend of strength, technique and in-game intelligence means he will be a member of tournament rosters for years to come.

Midfielder: Sergio Busquets

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    The man who sits at the base of Barcelona's pivot will be part of the new revolution for club and country as his midfield partners depart.

    His playacting skills don't do him any favours, but his importance to teams shouldn't be underestimated.

    There are no guarantees in football, but declaring that Sergio Busquets will be in the 2016 team is a near-certainty.

Midfielder: Koke

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    The Atletico Madrid creative maestro is the natural heir to Xavi's throne at international level.

    There's every chance that one day he will also take up the mantle at the Camp Nou, but he will remain with Atleti for at least another year after signing a new contract, per The Guardian.

    His prolific passing and assist-making skills will see him grow in stature with La Roja over the next few years.

Midfielder: Andres Iniesta

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    Andres Iniesta will be 32 by the time of the European Championships, but he should still be an important, experienced team member.

    While his teammate and good friend Xavi leaves for pastures new, it's vital that Spain don't make the transition too swiftly.

    The Barcelona midfielder can help the next generation fulfil their potential and help bridge the gap between eras.

Midfielder: Thiago Alcantara

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    Barcelona's mismanagement of Thiago Alcantara's contract situation is still shocking nearly a year on.

    The mobile playmaker should combine perfectly with Koke to bring tiki-taka back to life in the near future for La Seleccion.

    He has been unfortunate with injuries in the last 12 months, but under the tutorship of Pep Guardiola he has the potential to reach the heights of previous great Spain midfielders.

Midfielder: Isco

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    Few players started the 2013-14 season with such gusto as the Real Madrid creator.

    His goal threat and passing technique make him a valuable commodity for both Real Madrid and Spain in the future.

    Under Carlo Ancelotti he has found himself suffering from the Italian's use of either a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 system.

    Although he can operate as a false nine, he's likely to have similar issues for his country, but he is perfect should they require a No. 10.

Midfielder: Cesc Fabregas

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    There's no doubting the talent of Cesc Fabregas, but there are questions surrounding his tactical intelligence.

    The new Chelsea signing will, of course, learn under Jose Mourinho, but not necessarily befitting a style that will help his international credentials.

    Fabregas should still be involved with Spain in two years' time, but it wouldn't be that surprising if he was even more of a wild card.

Midfielder: Ander Herrera

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    The new man at Old Trafford has suffered from the depth his country has to offer in the central berth.

    Under Louis van Gaal, he will evolve into an even better player, while the stylistic similarities with the Dutchman's philosophy and Spain's should help his move to a higher gradient.

    The former Athletic Bilbao attacking midfielder will also benefit from more experience around him and operating under greater pressure.

Midfielder: Juan Mata

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    It hasn't been the best 12 months of Juan Mata's career, but hopefully for him it was just an anomaly in his progress.

    His lack of suitability to Jose Mourinho's Chelsea or even David Moyes' Manchester United is perhaps the greatest compliment you can ever pay him.

    Mata will thrive in a manner that fits his characteristics and should be part of Spain's plans in the next few years.

Forward: Jese Rodriguez

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    The Real Madrid youngster set the season alight and was a real outside bet to make Brazil.

    It's crucial that the weight of expectation is not too heavy early on, but in 2016 he should be one of the world's leading superstars.

    His direct nature means that Spain will have a player that will penetrate defences and maintain their quick passing simultaneously.

Forward: Alvaro Negredo

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    Injuries and a sudden drop of form in the last three months stopped Alvaro Negredo from making the trip to Brazil.

    He had a far more productive year than either Fernando Torres or David Villa, but his similar attributes to Diego Costa probably counted against him.

    He certainly has more to offer, and with spaces opening in the forward roles expect him to capitalise.

Forward: Pedro Rodriguez

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    The relation between Pedro's Barcelona future and his national-team credentials are intermittently linked.

    Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta reassured the winger that he remains part of their plans: "Pedro can’t be transferred," he told the media according to Mundo Deportivo (via Football Espana).

    He provides the perfect runs without the ball in behind opposition defences, and if he was to leave the Catalans it's likely that his stock would fall.

Forward: Diego Costa

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    The Brazilian-born forward's decision to opt for his adoptive country could prove costly in the coming weeks.

    His suitability to Spain's style didn't look good during the World Cup, but as he was nowhere near fully fit it's unfair to judge.

    He now has two years to show that he cannot only play in the same vein as in the last 18 months, but also lead the Spanish line for their own particular brand of football.