Euro 2016: looking at this Spain side with optimism

The European Championship is almost upon us. The tournament kicks off on Friday, although Spain won’t be in action until the following Monday, June 13, when we take on the Czech Republic in Toulouse. After that, we play Turkey in Nice on June 17 and our final group match against Croatia in Bordeaux on June 21. Those are our group stage opponents. After that, the gods will decide. Spain will play their final warm-up match tonight, in Getafe, with all the players now present. The opposition is Georgia, a modest rival. But I fear that everybody will feature in the game. Hopefully the likely starting 11 will be fielded first at least, so that they can continue to build their understanding. A good rapport is necessary.

Vicente del Bosque told Joaquín Maroto on Monday that he was thinking about a 4-1-4-1, although he didn’t rule out pairing Bruno with Sergio Busquets when needed to strengthen the shield in front of the defence. In the 4-1-4-1 formation, it is a simple matter to guess the team. Aside from the keeper, who I assume will be De Gea, I can see the defence being formed with Juanfran, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba. Busquets will sit in front of the back four with David Silva, X, Andrés Iniesta and Nolito behind lone striker Álvaro Morata. The X is the incognito. Cesc or Koke, I imagine, although Thiago is another possibility. And Bruno, in a double pivot, if the opposition warrants it.

It looks like a good team to me. A little diminished compared to the era of Xabi Alonso and Xavi (two X’s, as you can see) but still a skilful side. The recent emergence of Morata and Nolito to me has reinvigorated the attack, which had been lacking since the glory years of David Villa and Fernando Torres. The central defenders are imposing, as is Busquets, the full backs are solid in defence and able to get forward in attack while Silva and Iniesta are still capable of magic. I would like to be optimistic. Let’s see if today’s game contributes to that. And a plea: let’s leave Piqué in peace. He is an exemplary player with the national team. His spats with Madrid are a horse of a different colour.