EURO 2012 Group C:GROUP of Debt:La Roja’s Gentleman,The Puppet Master and El Cerebro’s magic.

Spain has been drawn in  the ‘Group of Debt’ with Italy,Croatia and Ireland.Spain could ask for a rescue of its troubled banks this weekend when European finance ministers hold an emergency conference call Saturday to discuss its hurting lending sector, a move that would turn the nation into the fourth from the 17-nation eurozone to seek outside help since the continent’s financial crisis erupted two years ago.

From the Berlusconi scandal in February 2011 which triggered mass demonstrations in Italy, protests have continued, most recently against the referendum on nuclear energy, in another blow for Berlusconi’s government according to the Economist. 

The services sector in Italy fell from 44.8 to 44.1, with employment shrinking at its fastest rate since July 2009, while the Bank of Italy predicted the country’s economy was set to shrink this year.

The youth in Spain has also been protesting heavily against soaring unemployment, which marks the current financial crisis in Europe. Spain’s unemployment has doubled in three years and in the Irish Republic, unemployment figures are at their highest level in 10 years.

However,Casillas men kick off their EURO 2012 campaign against the Italians on June 10.Here’s a quick profile of the team:

Ranked number 1 in the world,Vicente Del Bosque’s men scored more than 3 goals on an average game during their qualification to Euro 2012. The Spanish will be without Barcelona duo Villa and Puyol.The current title holders are drawn, assumes 3 big matches against Italy, Croatia and Republic of Ireland. Some of the recent friendly results have not been too inspiring for the Spanish fans.

Statistics against

Italy:

Spain won all of their matches during the Euro 2008 except the one against Italy in quarterfinals, when the match ended 0:0 and only misses from De Rossi and Di Natale in the after-match penalty shoot-outs let the Spaniards overcome the hurdle of reigning World Champions.

Rep. of Ireland:

The confident Spaniards seemed to win a World Cup 2002 last sixteen match, when Robbie Keane got the chance to equalize from a penalty on the very last minute. The Spaniards won, however, that evening after post-match penalties missed by Matt Holland, David Connoly and Kevin Kilbane.

Croatia:

The two sides have met 4 times with Spain winning two times but the two teams have never met at any tournament before.

HOW THEY QUALIFIED

Spain won all of their 8 matches to directly qualify for the Euro 2012,making it only the fourth time (France for Euro 92 and 2004, and Czech Republic for Euro 2000) that a nation advanced to the finals of the European Championship with a perfect run in the qualifiers.

GROUP I GP GD PTS
1 Spain (Q) 8 8 0 0 20 24
2 Czech Republic (P) 8 4 1 3 4 13
3  Scotland 8 3 2 3 -1 11
4 Lithuania 8 1 2 5 -9 5
5 Liechtenstein 8 1 1 6 -14 4

TOP SCORERS

7 – David Villa
4 – David Silva
3 – Fernando Llorente
2 – Juan Mata, Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Torres, Xavi
1 – Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos

PAST RECORDS IN THE EUROS

1960
Withdrew
1988
Group stage
1964
Winner
1992
Did not qualify
1968
Did not qualify
1996
Quarterfinals
1972
Did not qualify 2000
Quarterfinals
1976
Did not qualify 2004
Group stage
1980
Group stage 2008
Winner
1984
Runner-up 2012
Qualified as group winners

GENTLEMAN | Vicente del Bosque


Spain’s victorious coach, Vicente del Bosque González (61), proved to be the real winner against the Netherlands as he refused to dwell on some of the over-the-top tackles of the Netherlands.Del Bosque became the most successful coach of all time on debut with a national team when he won his first 13 games in charge. He also helped guide the country to a new record of 15 consecutive wins, and joined Brazil’s class of 1993 to 1996 with the longest undefeated run of 33 matches.

In a combined 18 qualification games for the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, Del Bosque has won all 18. He has only ever lost two competitive encounters: to the United States in the 2009 Confederations Cup and to Switzerland in the opening game of the 2010 World Cup.

Barcelona forward Pedro has been rewarded for his two goals in the Copa del Rey final by being included in Spain’s 23-man squad for the European Championships.

Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo was also selected among coach Vicente del Bosque’s strikers, meaning there was no place for Roberto Soldado or Adrian Lopez, despite the latter’s goalscoring debut against Serbia.Atletico Madrid’s Juanfran is included thanks in part to an injury suffered by Andoni Iraola in the cup final.

Here’s the Spanish squad:

Casillas (Real Madrid), Valdes (Barcelona), Reina (Liverpool); Alba (Valencia), Albiol, Arbeloa, Ramos (all Real Madrid), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Pique (Barcelona), Martinez (Athletic Bilbao); Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Busquets, Fabregas (all Barcelona), Alonso (Real Madrid), Silva (Manchester City), Cazorla (Villarreal), Navas (Sevilla), Mata (Chelsea); Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Torres (Chelsea), Negredo (Sevilla), Pedro (Barcelona).

During Del Bosque’s first 50 games as Spain coach, he won 42 of them, while drawing two and losing six with 123 goals scored and just 40 conceded in the process.

 THE CAPTAIN| Iker Casillas

Honours

UEFA European Championship: winner 2008

Copa del Rey : winner 2011
UEFA EURO 2008: Team of the Tournament

FIFA World Cup: winner 2010

La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year: 2000

Zamora Trophy: 2007–08

ESM Team of the Year: 2008

FIFA/FIFPro World XI: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

FIFPro/FIFA FIFPro World’s Best Goalkeeper: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

IFFHS Best Goalkeeper: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Best European Goalkeeper: 2008, 2010

FIFA World Cup Golden Glove: 2010 

FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2010

Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit: 2009

La Liga : winner 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2012
UEFA Champions League: winner 2000, 2002
UEFA Super Cup: winner 2002
Intercontinental Cup :winner  2002: 2002
UEFA European Under-16 Championship: winner 1997
UEFA.com users’ Team of the Year: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Supercopa de España : winner 2001, 2003, 2008

FIFA World Youth Championship: winner 1999

Bravo Award: 2000

Casillas inherited the Spain arm-band from Raul and holds the honour of being his country’s most capped player, eclipsing Andoni Zubizarreta’s previous tally of 126 appearances. In addition, he has surpassed the same player to become La Furia Roja’s record holder for the most clean sheets in the Spanish national team.

As if captaining Spain to UEFA EURO 2008 and 2010 FIFA World Cup glory was not enough, Iker Casillas Fernández (31) is now the most capped Spanish international of all time (131 caps). A formidably consistent goalkeeper, agile, authoritative and almost never injured, he has been the unrivalled No1 for more than a decade at Real Madrid CF, with whom he won his fifth Liga title in 2011/12.

A UEFA Champions League winner in his debut season as a Madrid first-team player − 1999/2000 − he remains the youngest person, at 19 years and four days, to have kept goal in the final of Europe’s premier club competition.A substitute for the 2002 UEFA Champions League showpiece, he replaced César Sánchez in the second half and produced several telling saves to help Madrid defeat Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2-1 and regain the trophy in their centenary year.

He started all five matches for Spain at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, after a bizarre pre-tournament injury to rival Santiago Cañizares, and was the penalty shoot-out hero against the Republic of Ireland in the round of 16.

The unchallenged No1 for Spain since then, Casillas replaced club colleague Raúl González as captain after the 2006 World Cup. He skippered Spain to UEFA EURO 2008 glory, keeping clean sheets in all three knockout matches as the Roja ended a 44-year wait for international glory.

Casillas became only the third Spanish player to win 100 caps when he played in a November 2009 friendly against Argentina. Reached a glittering career high at the 2010 World Cup as he captained Spain to their first world title, conceding just two goals in seven matches; voted into the tournament’s All-Star Team.

He won back-to-back Liga crowns in 2006/07 and 2007/08, receiving the Zamora Trophy in the latter. Became only the eighth Madrid player to make 400 Liga appearances when he helped the Merengues to a 3-1 win at Real Zaragoza on 12 December 2010.

On 10 November 2011 at a ceremony in Madrid hosted by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Casillas received a commemorative cap and medal from UEFA to mark his century of international appearances.

Five days later Casillas became Spain’s most capped player when he made his 127th outing, a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica.

THE PUPPET MASTER| Xavi

Honours

UEFA European Championship: winner 2008
UEFA EURO 2008: Player of the Tournament
UEFA EURO 2008: Team of the Tournament
UEFA Champions League: winner 2006, 2009, 2011
UEFA Super Cup: winner 2009, 2011

La Liga :winner 1999, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011

Copa del Rey:winner 2009, 2012

Supercopa de España : winner 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011

FIFA Club World Cup : 2009, 2011.

FIFA World Cup: winner 2010

FIFA World Youth Championship: winner 1999

FIFA Ballon d’Or Third place: 2010, 2011

Ballon d’Or Third place: 2009

FIFA World Player of the Year Third place: 2009

World Soccer Player of the Year: 2010

UEFA Champions League Midfielder of the Year: 2008–09

IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year: 1999

La Liga Spanish Player of the Year: 2005

La Liga Midfielder of the Year: 2009, 2011

Trofeo Alfredo Di Stéfano Second place: 2010

FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2010

FIFA/FIFPro World XI: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

ESM Team of the Year: 2008–09, 2010–11

UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match: 2009

FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball: 2009

FIFA Club World Cup Silver Ball: 2011

Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit: 2010

UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year: 2009
UEFA.com users’ Team of the Year: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011


Xavi’s stake to claim as one of the best midfielders of his generation relies largely on his ability to find and exploit space. Xavi’s abnormally good vision, pinpoint accurate passing and world class ball control allow him to dictate the flow of play whilst rarely relinquishing possession. His ability to completely control some matches has earned him the name “The Puppet Master“. The playmaker has always been hailed as a phenomenal footballer at club level, but he only rose to global prominence when he masterminded his country’s path to glory in Euro 2008 and was named Player of the Tournament.Since then, he has become one of the most consistent footballers today, finishing fifth in the Ballon d’Or awards in 2008, and third in 2009, 2010, and 2011.He has scored 10 goals in 108 games for Spain.

A FIFA U-20 World Cup winner with Spain in 1999 and silver medallist at the 2000 Olympic Games, Xavier Hernández i Creus (32) made his full national team debut in the same game as club-mate Carles Puyol on 15 November 2000 against the Netherlands.

A fringe player at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and an unused squad member at UEFA EURO 2004, he was first choice at the 2006 World Cup after returning from a six-month injury lay-off and Spain’s star performer in their UEFA EURO 2008 triumph.Spanish champion in 2004/05 and again the following season but played only the first four matches of Barcelona’s victorious 2005/06 UEFA Champions League campaign due to knee ligament damage sustained in November.

His tenth UEFA Champions League campaign, in 2008/09, brought victory and the man of the match award in the final against Manchester United FC; also triumphant in the Liga, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.He extended his contract until summer 2016 in June 2010, prior to being a key midfield performer in Spain’s World Cup success in South Africa; voted into the tournament’s All-Star Team.

Xavi overtook Migueli at the top of the club’s all-time appearance list in January 2011 when he appeared in a 1-1 draw with Athletic Club, his 550th outing for the Blaugrana, and claimed his sixth Liga title four months later.The midfield general was imperious in the 2011 UEFA Champions League final at Wembley as Barcelona defeated Manchester United in the showpiece for the second time in three seasons.

He earned his 100th cap for Spain on 25 March 2011 during a UEFA European Championship qualifier against the Czech Republic in Granada. Xavi received a commemorative cap and medal from UEFA to mark that milestone on 10 November 2011 at a ceremony in Madrid hosted by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

In the best goalscoring form of his career in 2011/12 with ten Liga goals, two in the Copa del Rey – which Barcelona won – and one in the 4-0 FIFA Club World Cup final success against Santos FC.

El Cerebro (THE BRAIN) |  Andrés Iniesta

Honours

UEFA European Championship: winner 2008
UEFA EURO 2008: Team of the Tournament
UEFA Champions League: winner 2006, 2009, 2011
UEFA Super Cup: winner 2009, 2011
UEFA European Under-19 Championship: winner 2002
UEFA European Under-16 Championship: winner 2001
UEFA.com users’ Team of the Year: 2009, 2010, 2011

La Liga :winner 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011

Copa del Rey:winner 2009, 2012

Supercopa de España : winner 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011

FIFA Club World Cup : 2009, 2011.

FIFA World Cup: winner 2010

FIFA Ballon d’Or 2nd place: 2010

Ballon d’Or 4th place: 2009

La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year: 1999

La Liga Spanish Player of the Year: 2009

Trofeo Alfredo Di Stéfano Second place: 2009

FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2010

FIFA/FIFPro World XI: 2009, 2010, 2011

ESM Team of the Year: 2011

UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match: 2009

Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit: 2010

La Liga’s Best Attacking Midfielder of the Year: 2009,2011

The man who won the 2010 FIFA World Cup for Spain with his extra-time goal in the final against the Netherlands, Andrés Iniesta Luján (28) has scaled many other career peaks with FC Barcelona. An outstanding midfielder, his touch and vision are second to none, and his understanding with team-mate Xavi Hernández borders on the telepathic.
His performances have earned him so many nicknames:El Ilusionista (The Illusionist), El Cerebro (The Brain), El Anti-Galáctico , El Caballero Pálido (The Pale Knight) and Don Andrés.

On Barça’s books since the age of 12, he played in all but one of 38 games in the club’s 2004/05 title-winning season, albeit 25 as a substitute.Iniesta stood in for the injured Xavi as Barça retained the Liga and won the UEFA Champions League in 2005/06, making an influential appearance as a half-time substitute in the Paris final against Arsenal FC.

First capped for the senior side on the eve of the 2006 FIFA World Cup; made just one appearance at the finals, against Saudi Arabia, but played in 11 of 12 UEFA EURO 2008 qualifiers, scoring three goals, and was on top form as well as being ever-present at the finals.He struck a dramatic added-time equaliser at Chelsea FC that took his team through to the 2009 UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United FC, who he also helped Barcelona defeat two years later in the showpiece at Wembley.

Iniesta suffered an injury-interrupted 2009/10 campaign but nonetheless helped Barcelona to the Liga title with a record 99 points; retained the championship the following season, scoring a career-best eight league goals.He scored twice at the 2010 World Cup, including an extra-time winner against the Netherlands in the final, and was subsequently voted into the tournament’s All-Star Team.

He helped Barcelona to two trophies in the 2011/12 season – the FIFA Club World Cup and Copa del Rey – and took his international goal tally into double figures with strikes in friendlies against Chile and Venezuela. Don Andrés has scored 11 goals in 64 caps for Spain.

David Villa’s absence is a big blow. His position has to be occupied by one of the two Fernandos – Llorente or Torres. None of them is even close to the player, who scored most goals at both Euro 2008 and South Africa 2010. Another blow is the injury of Puyol, who will miss the tournament due to a knee injury. However, despite the absence of this inspiring center-back, Spain doesn’t plan to concede lots of goals. Their famous tactics assumes ball possession, as the team usually doesn’t concede when possessing the ball.

This article was written by Nana Abiri (@NOKA88)
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3 thoughts on “EURO 2012 Group C:GROUP of Debt:La Roja’s Gentleman,The Puppet Master and El Cerebro’s magic.

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