Since winning Euro 2012, Spain hasn’t advanced past the round of 16 in a major international tournament and their status as a football superpower has diminished.
Captain Sergio Ramos is out of the lineup leaving the Euro 2020 roster without any players from the Euro 2008 champion squad that kicked off Spain’s dynastic run from 2008 to 2012.
It marks the beginning of a new La Roja, and although the new faces are less likely to dominate the world stage like their predecessors, they’re still among the tournament favourites and should have no issues winning Group E.
“Tiki-taka” is over, and Luis Enrique is ready to move on. Since winning back-to-back European Championships with the 2010 World Cup title in between, Spain have been a flop at major tournaments as the team’s ageing veterans lost their lustre.
All three of Spain’s group matches will be played in front of some home fans in Seville, but as the supporters there will surely know, Spain are capable of both big wins and big disappointments.
They thrashed Germany 6-0 in the Nations League in November, but also drew 1-1 with Greece at home in World Cup qualifying in March.
Spain qualified for this tournament in a group alongside Sweden in 2019, finishing top of their group with eight wins from 10, conceding just five goals.
Sweden’s support were just starting to dream a little bigger ahead of the Euros after Zlatan Ibrahimovic ended his five-year international retirement in March.
A knee injury will keep the 39-year-old out of the tournament, meaning coach Janne Andersson must revert to type, and the entertainment factor for neutrals drops down a notch.
However, it may be a blessing in disguise for Sweden. Their form and togetherness without Ibrahimovic was noticeable, and Sweden remain in a good place heading into the tournament.
On Lewa’s shoulders
Competitive in the last Euros, Poland were disappointing in Russia in 2018, winning just one of their three games and finishing bottom of a group they had expected to challenge for.
Another quarter-final appearance would be positive, but their first game against Slovakia looks a must-win to progress positively through the group.
Poland’s hopes of a memorable first tournament at the helm are likely to rely heavily on Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 53 goals in 46 games for club and country this season after breaking the record number of goals in a Bundesliga campaign with champions Bayern Munich.
Slovakia reached their second European Championship as an independent nation through the Nations League play-off route, seeing off the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to take their place in Group E.
They will be the outsiders to progress any further but took points off England and Russia in 2016 before losing to Germany in the last 16.
Fresh from winning Serie A with Inter, Milan Skriniar is still one of the best centre-halves on the continent. The 26-year-old helped Inter keep 15 clean sheets last season.
Poland vs Slovakia (St Petersburg).
Spain vs Sweden (Seville)
Friday June 18:
Sweden vs Slovakia (St Petersburg)
Saturday June 19:
Spain vs Poland (Seville)
Wednesday June 23:
Slovakia vs Spain (Seville)
Sweden vs Poland (St Petersburg)