Three Euro winners named in Spain squad for London 2012
Saturday, 07 July 2012
July 7 - Three members of the Spain squad which made history at the European Championships last weekend have been named in their provisional 22 man squad for this summer's Olympics in London.
The stand out name is Barcelona-bound left back Jordi Alba, hailed as the world's best player in his position after starring at the Euros.
He scored a superb goal in the final as Spain won 4-0 against Italy, but was also impressive during the group stage, quarter and semi-finals while the rest of his team were being criticised for "underperforming".
He is joined by Chelsea's Juan Mata, who came off the bench to score a simple fourth goal on Sunday (July 1).
Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez, who like Mata hardly featured in the Euros, has also been called up.
His teammate Iker Muniain, who starred for the Basque side on their run to the final of the Europa League, joins Martinez.
Other members of the talented Bilbao team in line to go to London 2012 are Ander Herrera and Mikel San Jose.
Also selected is Thiago Alcântara (pictured below), the son of Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho, who plays for Barcelona and is another small, technical and intelligent midfield player in the Xavi and Andrés Iniesta mould.
Alcântara is joined by teammates Cristian Tello, who made his breakthrough into the Barcelona squad this season and showed signs of his prodigious talent, and Martin Montoya.
Mata's Chelsea teammate Oriol Romeu and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea are also in contention for London after making the 22 man list.
Cesar Azpilicueta is one step closer to putting a miserable season with Marseille behind him by making it to the Olympics after being called up, while Alvaro Dominguez has a second reason to celebrate this week after his selection.
Dominguez signed for Champions League side Borussia Moenchengladbach from Atlético Madrid earlier in the week.
Atlético forward Adrián López is likely to lead the forward line in London when the final squad is named.
Goalkeepers Joel Robles (pictured below) and Diego Marino, defender Alberto Botía, midfielders Koke and Isco, and forwards Rodrigo and Álvaro Vázquez complete the 22 man selection.
Spain have just become the first team ever to win the European Championship, World Cup and subsequent Euros in a row.
They are only the second team ever to win three major international tournaments back to back, after the Uruguay side which won the 1923 and 1924 Copa Americas as well as the 1924 Olympics – though the Spanish would argue their three victories were harder to achieve.
But Milla is not expecting the same sort of heroics from his young squad as the senior team have achieved.
"I believe it would be unfair to demand that this team be at the same level as the full national team," Milla said.
"This team has character and a similar playing philosophy but it is a different team under different pressures."
Though Milla is taking the pressure off, many of his squad played a key part in the Spanish cycle of success by winning last year's under-21 European Championship to qualify for London.
Spain play Senegal and Mexico in friendlies before heading to London, where they face Japan, Honduras and Morocco in their group.
The Spanish won the football gold medal last on home soil in Barcelona 20 years ago, whilst they also picked up silver in Sydney in 2000.