Which current Spanish players would make it into their 2012 team?
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Which current Spanish players would make it into their 2012 team?

08/07/24 15:41

Spain have been excellent in Euro 2024 so far. In fact they haven’t been this exciting to watch since they won the tournament back in 2012, with their golden generation. Now they are favourites to win the competition again, I think we should take a look at the two teams and create a combined XI. I will be looking at the line up from Spain’s victory in the Euro 2012 final, and their one from their victory against Germany in Euro 2024.

GK - Iker Casillas

Starting off with a no brainer, Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas gets the nod in goal ahead of Unai Simon. Casillas was the captain when the nation won their second consecutive Euro trophy and managed to keep five clean sheets in the tournament out of six games. The only game in which Spain conceded was in their opening group game, which was against Italy, same as the final.

Casillas is the second most capped Spanish player of all time, earning 167 caps for his nation over a 16 year period between 2000-2016. Unai Simon has been the first choice goalkeeper for Spain since 2020, but he is nowhere near the level of Casillas.

RB - Dani Carvajal

At right-back I’m going with Dani Carvajal who I think comfortably beats Alvaro Arbeloa to this spot. Had Carles Puyol not been injured for Euro 2012, then this decision would have been a lot harder. Carvajal has actually made fewer appearances for his nation than Arbeloa did despite the latter spending most of his international career as a backup to Puyol and Sergio Ramos.

Carvajal scored his first international goal in Euro 2024, in Spain’s 3-0 win over Croatia and has, for the most part, been an incredible professional in the tournament, as he has been throughout both his international and club career.

CBs - Gerard Pique & Sergio Ramos

Generally regarded as one of the best centre-back partnerships in international footballing history, Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos absolutely blow Robin Le Normand and Aymeric Laporte out of the water. The two 2024 defenders combined have less than half of the caps that Pique has earned, at 102, and Ramos has even more, with 180, making him the most capped Spanish player of all time.

Before Euro 2012, Ramos had played most of his international football at right-back, but he had played in the centre of defence for Real Madrid before, so it seemed like an obvious choice to put him there. We all know that since then, he has become one of the greatest centre backs of all time so not including him in this XI would just be plain wrong.

LB - Jordi Alba

Completing the defence is former Barcelona man Jordi Alba, who is still playing at the age of 35. Like his centre-back teammates, he beats his competition easily as, despite having a good tournament, Marc Cucurella is miles away from Jordi Alba. Alba made his Spain debut less than a year before winning Euro 2012 but slotted into the team seamlessly, playing in every game. He even scored the second of four Spanish goals in the final, just before halftime.

The 35-year-old captained his country to their first international honour since 2012 in 2023, winning the Nations League final against Croatia. Following that victory, Alba announced his retirement from international football, having earned 93 caps for his country.

CDM - Rodri

The first controversial pick on this list, I have decided to include Manchester City midfielder Rodri on this list over Sergio Busquets, despite the former only earning 54 caps at the age of 27. Between 2018 and 2021, Busquets kept Rodri out of Spain’s starting XI, and that wasn’t even during his prime. However, I think that Rodri is currently the best defensive midfielder in world football, so I just had to include him.

Like Busquets, Rodri controls every game he plays, and while his international career isn’t close to what Busquets has achieved, some of his club statistics and accolades are incredibly impressive. This was a difficult choice, but I just about favoured Rodri in this position.

CMs - Xabi Alonso, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas

A trio of 2012 ballers, Xabi Alonso, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas are three of the greatest midfielders of all time. Spain’s Euro 2012 team played with an incredibly unique formation, favouring to overload the midfield rather than play any forward players at all. This formation proved to work excellently, as they won 4-0 in the final, although the scoreline would have been a lot closer if Thiago Motta’s injury hadn’t left Italy with 10 men for nearly 30 minutes, as they had used all of their substitutes.

Alonso, Xavi and Fabregas have 357 caps between them, and while Fabian Ruiz has been my Player of the Tournament for Euro 2024 so far, there is no way any sane person would put him on the same level as these three 2012 maestros.

CAM - Andres Iniesta

Don’t ask me what formation I’ve decided to go with, just allow me to experiment. I’m not entirely sure who I am putting Andres Iniesta in over, but it is one of Pedri, Dani Olmo, Nico Williams or Lamine Yamal. It doesn’t really matter which one I decide, because none of them come close to arguably the best midfielder of all time.

At the age of 40, Iniesta is technically still contracted to his club in the UAE, but it looks as if he will be hanging up his boots soon (although people have been saying that ever since he left Barcelona in 2018). He scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final and received the Man of the Match award in the Euro 2012 final, as well as the player of the tournament award. He earned a total of 131 caps in his international career, which puts him fifth in Spain’s all time standing.

ST - Alvaro Morata

Despite Spain not using a striker in 2012, I have decided to include Alvaro Morata over David Silva in this position. Despite being somewhat of a meme during his club career, Morata’s international goal scoring record is more than decent. He is the fourth top goal scorer in Spanish history with 36, and has a better goals per 90 ratio than some of the Spanish greats such as Raul, Fernando Torres and Emilio Butragueno.

David Silva scored the opener in the Euro 2012 final against Italy, but he is a midfielder more than he is a striker, and so I needed to put Morata here instead. Had David Villa not been injured for the tournament, then he would have definitely been included. Villa has scored 15 more goals for Spain than any other player in history, with 59. His injury was the reason that Spain decided to play without a centre-forward in that tournament.

Spain 2012 vs Spain 2024 Combined XI

Euro 2024

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Jake Martin

Writer

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