Can a strike force including Fernando Torres, David Villa and David Silva served by Fabregas, Iniesta and Xavi fail to deliver?
Fernando Torres, the scorer of the winning goal at the 2008 European Championships, is slowly returning to fitness after an injury hampered Premiership campaign with Liverpool. Cesc Fabregas will start the tournament without having featured in a match since the Champions League quarter final against Barcelona in March. Andres Iniesta has suffered from injury for much of the season and then played poorly even when he was fit. As evidenced in the recent international friendly against Saudi Arabia, Spain will for a large part be immediately reliant on David Villa and David Silva.
The rojiblancos will be hoping that Torres, Iniesta and Fabregas find form and fitness during the tournament. This is never easy. The pressure surrounding players in an international tournament is unlike any other the players might find in football. Every misplaced pass and wasted shot will dramatically affect their confidence, whilst working their way back to fitness in matches where everybody around them is in top condition is far from simple. If the returning players struggle to cope with the demands the burden on Villa and Silva might weight a little too heavy, especially in the latter knockout stages of the tournament.
Spain will begin the tournament as the majority of pundits favorites for the competition and they will have to take the initiative in every match. Strategies like defending deep and then counter attacking will not be an option for the coach, Vincente Del Bosque. He understands that should he employ any of these strategies and Spain fail then he will be the one taking the blame for instructing his players, ideally suited to dominate and control matches, to play in a different, more negative, fashion. If Spain concede the first goal in a knockout tie and are struggling to find a way back into the match the fact that Fabregas, Iniesta and Torres have hardly featured in recent months might come back to haunt the Spanish.
There is no point in having the best players if half of them are not fit. Favorites rarely win the World Cup and injured players infrequently find their best form quickly.
Spain need Silva and Villa to relieve the pressure on the returning trio.