Spain go in to London 2012 with every chance of becoming the first European nation to win gold since they did so themselves at Barcelona ‘92.
The nation is currently riding the crest of a wave, having completed an unprecedented treble of major international tournaments, and their domination sees so sign of holding up, as many members of their Olympic Squad tasted victory in the UEFA European under 21 Championships in December.
History at the Olympics
The Spanish have participated ten times over the years at the Olympic Men’s football event; winning silver in Antwerp, 1920 and more recently in Sydney, 2000, whist in 1992 they were victorious when the Games took place in Barcelona.
Their squad is coached by Luis Milla, who has been in charge of this group of players from the under-19 level to under-23, winning the Spanish Under 21’s to their third European title last year, whilst as a player, midfielder Milla moved from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 1990, before ending his career at Valencia, whilst he won three full international caps for Spain.
Players to Watch
Spain’s initial 22 man selection includes three members of the nation’s victorious Euro 2012 squad, including two goal scorers from the final. Chelsea’s Juan Mata, and new Barcelona signing Jordi Alba should feature, along with Javi Martinez of Athletic Bilbao.
Meanwhile, winger Iker Muniain, also of Bilbao, won the La Liga Breakthrough player of the year in 2011 and has notched up over 100 club appearances despite being just nineteen,; and Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea will relish the chance to represent his country on the big stage, having been behind Iker Casilllas, Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina in the pecking order for the senior squad.
Thursday, July 26th v Japan (14:45 GMT in Glasgow)
Sunday, July 29th v Honduras (19:45 GMT in Newcastle)
Wednesday, August 1st v Morocco (17:00 GMT in Manchester)
Spain are odds on favourites to win their opening match, with 118 Bet offering the best odds of 1.35 (6/17). Japan are 9.5 (17/2) with Bet Victor with the draw at 4.33 (10/3) with the same firm. Odds for Spain’s following fixtures will be available as the tournament gets closer.
Brazil, who are said to be using this tournament as a dry run for the squad expected to feature when they host the World Cup in two years’ time, are favourites for the tournament though if there is one team who can push them all the way, then it is the Spanish.
Many of these players have tasted victory at varying levels, from international youth levels all the way through to the European Championships and even the World Cup.
Stan James currently offer the best odds of 3.60 (13/5) that Spain will add the Olympic Gold to their already overflowing trophy cabinet, whist Juan Mata, who has won the FA Cup and Champions League medal along with the European Championships, is intriguingly priced at 26.0 (25/1) with Bet Victor to be the tournament’s top scorer.