Spain begin as bookmakers’ favourites to win Euro 2012 on the back of their Euro 2008 triumph and recent World Cup win, but they will have to make history as no team has ever retained the European Championship.
However, the current Spain side have got used to making history, topping the world rankings for the first time in 2008 and then equalling Brazil’s 35-match unbeaten run, including 15 straight wins, over a period of 28 months.
Spain also became the first team to win the World Cup after losing their first match, having fallen to a shock 1-0 loss against Switzerland.
Coach Vicente del Bosque said after the World Cup final win over the Netherlands that Spain were still an emerging force and the current, youthful generation could certainly go on to create a dynasty.
“This group is very humble and modest and the World Cup success draws from what we did in 2008,” said del Bosque.
“Almost all the players in the current squad will remain available (for the Euro 2012 finals and 2014 World Cup) and there are also younger guys pushing for a place.”
Barcelona trio Sergi Busquets, 22, Pedro Rodriguez, 23, and Gerard Pique, 23 — along with Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas, 23 — are still at the beginning of their careers, while Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres, both 26, are reaching their peak.
Liverpool forward Torres, the scorer of the winning goal in the Euro 2008 final, was only half-fit for the 2010 World Cup so, in theory, Spain should be even stronger at Euro 2012.
The world champions still need to qualify but begin the qualifying campaign as strong favourites to win Group I, which also contains the Czech Republic, Scotland, Liechtenstein and Lithuania.
“We must not underestimate anybody,” warned del Bosque. “Everybody wants to win and we must be aware that we represent a country that is the world champion.
“We may start the group as favourites, given that we’re ranked number one in the world right now, but things can change once you’re on the pitch.”
Spain begin with a trip to face minnows Liechtenstein in Vaduz on Friday in their first competitive match since their World Cup triumph in Johannesburg on July 11.
Spain had a flawless qualifying record for the World Cup with a perfect 10 wins and incredibly have only lost twice — to the United States at the 2009 Confederations Cup and then against Switzerland at the World Cup — since November 2006.
The world champions have played some marvellous football, with their excellent passing game helping them to dominate opponents, and the only real criticism has been their inability to win games by a bigger margin.
At the World Cup finals Spain were 1-0 specialists, beating Portugal, Paraguay, Germany and the Netherlands by that scoreline in the knockout stages of the competition.
But with Torres back fit to link up with new Barcelona striker David Villa, who top-scored with five goals at the World Cup, Spain should have more firepower as they bid to secure early qualification for 2012 and then try to become the first European side to win three successive major titles.