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Spain’s decade-long journey to the Euro 2024 final

After greater than a decade of disappointment, Spain reached the ultimate of the 2024 European Championship in Berlin on Sunday.

La Roja received the European Championship twice in 2008 and 2012 and likewise received the World Cup in 2010. The membership regarded set to dominate soccer within the coming years.

Nonetheless, they fell from grace with astonishing velocity, with the gamers who have been supposed to interchange their golden technology falling brief.

Spain’s defence on the 2014 World Cup resulted in early humiliation, with the Netherlands overwhelmed 5-1 and eradicated within the group stage.

The 2-time reigning champions have been knocked out by Italy within the spherical of 16 of Euro 2016, with newspaper Marca calling it ‘The top’ for Vicente del Bosque’s La Roja.

Spain went all the way down to Russia on penalties on the similar stage of the 2018 World Cup, making over 1,000 passes however failing to discover a goal for the house crew.

A greater efficiency at Euro 2020 took a younger crew to the semi-finals, however defeat to Morocco within the spherical of 16 of the 2022 World Cup was one other painful exit.

Nonetheless, the Spanish Soccer Federation was satisfied that the crew was near the place it wanted to be.

They changed coach Luis Enrique with Luis de la Fuente, who had efficiently coached nationwide youth groups for a few years.

Regardless of preliminary nerves, together with a 2-0 defeat to Scotland final 12 months, Spain caught with their comparatively unknown coach and at the moment are reaping the rewards.

De la Fuente received the Nations League for the primary time in 11 years final summer time, whereas he himself claimed that this was just the start.

And so it proved: La Roja have been the perfect crew on the European Championship, dominating the hardest group with reigning champions Italy earlier than beating hosts Germany and France.

What they’ve achieved appears exceptional provided that, aside from Manchester Metropolis midfielder Rodri, their squad options few recognisable stars.

Barcelona winger Lamine Yamal, 16, will proceed to amaze the soccer world for years to come back and will earn that fame, however he’s nonetheless at the start of his profession.

Nico Williams has additionally been within the highlight on the opposite facet of the road, with a giant transfer from Athletic Bilbao set to happen this summer time.

The crew additionally options many ‘outsiders’, together with Marc Cucurella, who struggled at Chelsea, Saudi Arabia-based Aymeric Laporte and others who do not actually stand out at their membership.

Their lack of superstars is not an issue, although. “I’ve 26 nice gamers and I am simply fortunate that they are Spanish,” De la Fuente stated.

In contrast to latest opponents England, the place coach Gareth Southgate has typically been reluctant to interchange struggling icons, or France, who’re constructing a crew round an underperforming Kylian Mbappe, Spain settle for that everybody is equal.

“The large distinction with all (different) nations is that we’re a crew and there’s no chief who stands above the remaining,” Barcelona’s Pedri defined earlier than the match.

•⁠ ⁠’An extended course of’ –

De la Fuente, who’s extra pragmatic than his predecessor, advantages from his willingness to strive completely different approaches.

Spain nonetheless have possession, but additionally launch the explosive Yamal and Williams, firing crosses and permitting them to take dangers to beat their opponents.

Whereas different coaches may choose ​​for one winger and a ball-possessing midfielder on the opposite flank, the 63-year-old goes all out with each choices.

Luis Enrique’s Spain tried to go groups endlessly, however at Euro 2024 La Roja typically had lower than 50 p.c possession.

De la Fuente is aware of his gamers higher than a lot of the others on the match, having coached the overwhelming majority of them himself over time.

He received the 2013 European Underneath-19 Championship and the 2019 European Underneath-21 Championship with Spain, plus silver on the 2021 Olympic Video games in Tokyo. Seven gamers from that day’s beginning line-up performed on the 2024 European Championship.

“I do know the gamers very nicely, what we had at our disposal and we wanted time to do what we’re seeing now,” the coach stated this week.

“I’m not shocked. Placing this collectively… it’s an extended course of, however we knew what selections to make and what path to take.”

That continuity has confirmed essential in worldwide soccer, the place coaches usually do not have a lot time to work with their gamers, and has introduced Spain again to the brink of glory.


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