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Group A: Spain Qualified as winner of play-off ties against Norway
Slapdash Spain adjust to life as Euro underdogs
 

Spain are in the unusual position of unfancied outsiders at Euro 2004 after a slapdash qualifying campaign almost cost them a place in a tournament they had desperately wanted to host themselves.

Spain's football authorities were bitterly disappointed when the country lost out to Portugal in the bidding process.

Compensation arrived in the form of a qualifying draw that put them in Group Six along with Greece, Ukraine, Northern Ireland and Armenia -- just the sort of teams Spain had beaten easily in qualification for other tournaments.

Under new coach Inaki Saez, Spain made a mess of the qualifying campaign, however, and they made it to next door's party in Portugal only via a playoff win over Norway.

Their 5-1 aggregate victory showed both sides of the Spanish game: nervous and lacking confidence at home, commanding and full of bite away.

Spain should have enough quality to do what they usually do in major tournaments -- reach the quarter-finals.

Actually challenging for their first major title since they won the European Championship in 1964 will depend upon Saez solving a couple of pressing problems in defence and attack.

Carlos Marchena and Ivan Helguera have been Saez's first-choice centre backs since the international retirement of Fernando Hierro but they rarely look comfortable playing together.

The coach has also yet to find a left back capable of doing the job and, even more worryingly, no player has established himself as a convincing partner for Raul up front.

"One position that worries me a lot is the number nine -- the lead striker," Saez said before an unconvincing 2-1 friendly win over Peru in February.

"We are a team that doesn't find it easy to score. We urgently need an out-and-out goalscorer."

Typically, both Spain's goals in that game came from midfielders, in this case, Joseba Etxeberria and Ruben Baraja.

Saez may opt to return to the tried and tested Real Madrid striker Fernando Morientes, who has found decent form on loan at Monaco, to partner Raul.

Otherwise, the coach will be left to hope that talented 20-year-old forward Fernando Torres will rise to the occasion.

Torres has been outstanding for Atletico Madrid all season and is likely to have a host of suitors soon.

Saez has named a heavily defensive squad for Euro 2004, leaving no place for Arsenal striker Jose Antonio Reyes or high-scoring Valencia attacker Mista.
- Simon Baskett
 
 « Star Player »

Name Vicente Rodríguez
Position Midfielder
Club Valencia
DOB
16.07.1981

In-form Vicente provides Spain with cutting edge
In a season in which Raul, Joaquin and Ivan Helguera have 

conspicuously failed to shine, Spain coach Inaki Saez can at least take comfort from the stunning form of Valencia midfielder Vicente.
The 22-year-old left winger has been the outstanding Spanish player in the Primera Liga this season, playing an instrumental role in helping his club to...   [more]

 « Star Player »

Name Raúl González
Position Forward
Club Real Madrid
DOB 27.06.1977

Time is right for Raúl to deliver for Spain

How Spain perform at Euro 2004 is as unpredictable as ever, but one certainty is that the first name on the team sheet will be that of Real Madrid striker Raul.
Almost a decade after bursting on to the scene as a 17-year-old, Raul has developed into one of the few Spanish players with a reputation outside the Iberian peninsula...   [more]

 

 « The Coach »
Sáez hopes Spanish youth will provide overdue success
Despite his unprecedented record of success as head coach of Spain's youth teams, Inaki Saez was tipped by few as a possible boss of the senior side.
Jose Antonio Camacho's unexpected resignation following Spain's World Cup quarter-final exit against South Korea in mid-2002 changed all that.
With many of the leading candidates for the job unavailable because of club commitments, the Spanish Federation decided to look within its own ranks and hand the job to the low-profile former Athletic Bilbao defender.
Saez had steered the under-21s to victory in the European Championship in 1998, the under-20s to the World Youth title the following year and led the Spanish team to a silver medal in the Sydney Olympics.
Ever since his first match in charge against Hungary in August 2002, the genial, 60-year-old Basque has shown faith in the youngsters who served him so well in his previous job.
Former U21 players such as Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres, Arsenal forward Jose Antonio Reyes and Real Sociedad midfielder Xabi Alonso have been given their debuts under Saez.
The coach, who has made a conscious effort to plan for the future rather than look for short-term results, has not included the 20-year-old Reyes in the squad for Portugal, saying he had not yet reached maturity.
After a promising start Spain made hard work of qualification for the European Championship and Saez had to endure a barrage of criticism for his tactics when his team were forced to go through a playoff against Norway.
In the end Saez proved his critics wrong, his astute selection policy in the return leg in Oslo helping his side to secure a comfortable 5-1 aggregate win over the Scandinavians.
Even more importantly, he has always had the players on his side. "We need a coach like this," said goalkeeper Iker Casillas. "He stuck to his guns and it paid off. He always puts the good of the team before his own personal interests."
Some pundits still see his role as little more than that of a seat-warmer for a future big name coach. But if Saez can repeat the success he enjoyed with the youth teams he will have few concerns about his future employment.

 

 « The Squad »

 Spain

Players DOB Club Cap Goal
Iñaki Sáez C 23.04.1943
23. Iker Casillas G 20.05.1981 Real Madrid
1. Santiago Canizares G 18.12.1969 Valencia
13. Daniel Aranzubia G Bilbao
5. Carles Puyol D 13.04.1978 Barcelona
6. Ivan Helguera D 28.03.1975 Real Madrid
3. Carlos Marchena D 31.07.1979 Valencia
2. Joan Capdevila D 03.02.1978 Deportivo
12. Gabri García D 10.02.1979 Barcelona
15. Raúl Bravo D 14.04.1981 Real Madrid
18. César Martín D 03.04.1977 Deportivo
22. Juanito D 23.07.1976 Real Betis
21. Juan Carlos Valerón M 17.06.1975 Deportivo
16. Xabi Alonso M 25.11.1981 Sociedad
8. Rubén Baraja M 11.07.1975 Valencia
14. Vicente Rodríguez M 16.07.1981 Valencia
4. David Albelda M 01.09.1977 Valencia
19. Joaquín Sánchez M 21.07.1981 Real Betis
20. Xavi Hernández M 25.01.1980 Barcelona
7. Raúl González F 27.06.1977 Real Madrid
11. Albert Luque F 11.03.1978 Deportivo
9. Fernando Torres F 20.03.1984 Atletico
10. Fernando Morientes F 05.04.1976 Monaco
17. Joseba Etxeberría F 05.09.1977 Bilbao
 

 

 

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F
ederation Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol (1913)
Headquarter
Calle Alberto Bosch, 13 - Apartado de Correos 347 - 28014 Madrid
Website
www.rfef.es
President
Angel Maria Villar Llona
Best Performance in Finals Champions in 1964
Recent record in Finals
1980 Round-1
1984 Runners-Up
1988 Round-1
1992 DNQ
1996 Quarter-Final
2000 Quarter-Final

 

 « Road to Portugal »

2-0
3-0
2-2
3-0
0-1
0-0
2-1
4-0
2-1
3-0

v Greece
v N.Ireland
v Ukraine
v Armenia
v Greece
v N.Ireland
v Ukraine
v Armenia
v Norway (Play-off)
v Norway (Play-off)
A
H
A
H
H
A
H
A
H
A

 

 « Final Tournament »

A v Russia

   2045 CET 12 June 2004

A v Greece

   1800 CET 16 June 2004

A v Portugal

   2045 CET 20 June 2004

 

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