Spain finally blossoming after years of underachievement
Pre-tournament favourites Spain have the chance to become world champions for the first time tonight when they face the Netherlands.
But why has this generation of Spanish players been able to cope in the big tournaments, unlike so many who have tried before them?
All eleven who started their semi-final against Germany on Wednesday night ply their trade in Spain. Only left back Joan Capdevila plays for a team other than the big two, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Players such as Pepe Reina, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres are forced to watch from the sidelines. Reina is arguably a better goalkeeper than Iker Casillas, who is not the player he once was, but yet the Real Madrid number one is captain and first choice, no contest.
abregas is certainly better than Sergio Busquets, who seems to be the man keeping him out of the side, while Torres -who did start two games in the group stages -is clearly better than Pedro when he is on form.
Vicente del Bosque and previous manager Luis Aragones have never come out directly and said players have a better chance if they play in La Liga, but with these big names left warming the bench it perhaps suggests being based in Spain is favourable.
At the European Championships two years ago Xabi Alonso did not start for the Spanish side. Marcos Senna was preferred instead -a player who played in Spain for Villarreal. Now, since his move from Liverpool to Madrid last summer, he has become a key figure in del Bosque’s plans.
Perhaps another reason why these superbly talented individuals are not making the side may just be down to the fact they keep winning, discounting the defeat against Switzerland.
With speculation rife about the future ofFabregas at Arsenal, the decision taken by del Bosque not to play the inspirational midfielder could influence Barcelona’s attempts to bring him back to his boyhood club.
Three of the four midfielders in the starting eleven play for Barcelona -Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Busquets. Barca then have David Villa and Pedro, and of course Argentinean winger Lionel Messi.
ShouldFabregas sign for the Spanish champions, early indications suggest he would be nothing more than a substitute.