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EURO 2008 - Spain: The Red Fury
Published in FilGoal on 04 - 06 - 2008


Founded: 1909
UEFA Affiliated: 1954
EURO Appearances: 7
EURO Titles: 1 (1964)
Despite having one of the strongest football competitions in the world, the Primera Liga, and a number of gifted players within their ranks, Spain remains one of the biggest underachievers in the game.
Spain coach Luis Aragones looks set to leave the team after EURO 2008, and the veteran manager will want to do so on a high note, especially that the Matadors exited the 2004 edition from the first round. They were also unfortunate to be eliminated from the 2006 World Cup finals by France.
But with players like Fernando Torres, David Villa, Cesc Fabregas and Carles Puyol, you can count on Spain to unleash La Furia Roja, or the Red Fury
History
Spain have competed in all 13 EURO qualifying campaigns. Their first participation was marred by a suspension after General Franco refused to host the Soviet team in Spain. The USSR got a bye and went on to win the first title.
The second edition marks Spain's best European Championship finish yet. Luis Suarez and his teammates avenged their elimination and beat USSR in the final 2-1.
From there on, Spain continued to produce some remarkably talented players like Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Emilio Butragueno, Andoni Zubizarreta, Fernando Hierro and Raul Gonzalez.
However, these sparkling names have continuously failed to make an impact on the results of the Spanish national team.

Aragones
Coach: Luis Aragones (Spanish)
The 70-year-old Aragones is known for his short-temper and no-nonsense approach. Also known as the 'Wise man of Hortaleza', his place of birth, Aragones has a glimmering coaching career that extends from 1974.
Aragones coached a host of top flight Spanish teams like Barcelona, Sevilla, Valencia and Espanyol, but perhaps his best stint was with Atletico Madrid with whom he won the league and cup double in 1995-1996.
He took over as Spain coach from Inaki Saez following the EURO 2004 exit. He enjoyed an unbeatable run in the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign, earning him the respect of the Spanish fans.
But Aragones' spell has not been without controversy. Fans will never forget the "Thierry Henry incident", when he was caught on camera trying to motivate Jose Antonio Reyes by making offensive racial references to Reyes's then Arsenal teammate Henry.
Aragones also fell out with the media and fans who have criticized him for sidelining 'El Capitan' Raul Gonzalez since the 2006 World Cup finals, even though the Real Madrid ace was enjoying a great season with his club.
Tactics
With a myriad of talent on hand, Aragones should not have any problems finding suitable players to apply his plan on the pitch.
The goalkeeper position is solidly held by team captain Iker Casillas who will be playing in his fourth major tournament while Pepe Reina will provide suitable cover.
In defense, Aragones depends greatly on the attacking flair of Real Madrid fullback Sergio Ramos and the mettle of Barcelona skipper Puyol.
Midfield is Spain's strongest asset and although the coach usually chooses to play 4-4-2, he can sometimes opt for a 4-5-1 formation and make good use of his many central pacey midfielders like Fabregas, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Spain have two world class strikers in Torres and Villa. While Torres has left Atletico and joined European giants Liverpool, Villa is still stuck with the struggling Valencia that doesn't have much to offer the resourceful ace.
Together, Torres and Villa provide Spain with a lethal attacking duo that has strength, pace and clinical finishing ability. However, Aragones's decision to leave out Raul Gonzalez could backfire if either player is suspended or injured.
Star Player - Fernando Torres


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