Shadow of Brazil still looms over Spain, Del Bosque says

Sun May 8, 2016 6:29am EDT
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By Richard Martin

MADRID (Reuters) - The shadow of their disappointing 2014 World Cup campaign still hangs over Spain as they prepare to defend their European Championship crown in France next month, according to coach Vicente del Bosque.

Although they finished top of their qualifying group for Euro 2016, Spain failed to sparkle against relatively weak opposition and have won just two out of seven friendlies since the World Cup.

“The origin of everything is Brazil and that disappointment,” Del Bosque said in an interview with international news agencies.

“But if you isolate that and look at our qualifying campaign, we lost one game and won nine. Then we had games with tough sides and although we lost to Holland, we beat England, and when we’ve lost it’s been by the minimum, we’ve been very close."

Despite the failings in Brazil, where Spain’s record run of three successive tournament wins came to an abrupt halt as a 5-1 thrashing by the Netherlands and a 2-0 defeat to Chile sent them packing at the group stage, Del Bosque has overseen only a partial process of renewal.

While Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa have retired from international soccer and Fernando Torres has been phased out, the core of the squad remains, including Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas and Andres Iniesta, ever present figures from the Euro 2008 triumph.

The starting 11 Del Bosque will pick for Spain’s first game in France against the Czech Republic on June 13 is by no means certain, especially when it comes to choosing a center forward.

Del Bosque has a wealth of options in Paco Alcacer, Alvaro Morata, Aritz Aduriz and Diego Costa, although the Chelsea striker’s continued presence in the squad has attracted criticism, not just for his disappointing displays which have yielded only one goal in 10 appearances.   Continued...

Football - Spain Training - Jose Rico Perez Stadium, Alicante, Spain - 12/11/15
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque during training
Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine