As the final remnants of Spain’s golden generation have now faded away once and for all, it is time for a new cycle of superstars to wear their famous jerseys. A jersey that in the past 12 years has seen triumph in both the World Cup and European Championships.
With their World Cup success of 2010 acting as the meat in a European Championships sandwich, outright victory in both 2008 and 2012 would secure Spain’s role as the most dominant force in world soccer.
However, that force is not quite as strong as it once was and with the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and David Villa now making way for names such as Alvaro Morata, Ferran Torres and Ansi Fatu, the latter trio will now lead the nation’s quest for glory in Qatar.
A quest that has seen Luis Enrique’s men handed a rather favorable group stage draw and although a meeting with Germany is one that they can certainly do without, clashes with Japan and Costa Rica will be rather more palatable.
While Group E can certainly be considered as the group of death, the subplot will be who finishes at the top of this four-team mini-league. With either Belgium or Croatia likely lying-in wait, the Round of 16 will offer Spain no respite whatsoever.
Then again, if Spain is to go all the way, they are going to have to deal with some rather tough opposition. Whatever the final standings in both groups E and F, the combinations will make for some rather fascinating knockout football.
Something that Spain has struggled with in the past few international tournaments. After finally losing grip of their European Championships crown in 2016, they would also be knocked out in the World Cup Round of 16 four years ago.
A loss on penalties to then-hosts Russia would be their undoing, while they also fared little better at last summer’s delayed European Championships. A semi-final berth yes, but still falling short to Italy by the same shootout method.
Which is something that manager Enrique and his players will be wary of. Two consecutive tournaments, two exits after a large failure to slot the ball home from 12 yards. If they can break this considerable curse, their chances of progress in the Middle East will only increase further.
Of course, it has not been all doom and gloom for this Spanish national side, and only recently did they book their ticket to the Nations League finals in 2023. Not a huge competition in the grand scheme of things, but certainly a platform from which to build from.
While the same could be said for their opening World Cup fixture against Costa Rica. Win that fixture comfortably and it will offer the perfect launchpad for the two guaranteed fixtures that are to follow.
Two more are guaranteed but a further four more is the desired number for all connected to the Spanish squad. If there are another half dozen after Costa Rica, it means this squad has reached the World Cup final and if that is the case, who knows what might happen.