At the national level, Spanish football has traditionally been underwhelming.
With a World Cup victory in 2010 and a European Championship in 2008, the Spaniards have done much to dispel that notion. Now the Spanish are looking to do what they have never done: win a third consecutive major competition in the form of the 2012 Union of European Football Associations European Football Championship.
The competition, in its 14th year under UEFA, officially gets going on Friday, 8 June, and runs until 1 July. Poland and Ukraine are serving as host nations for the first time. Spain is up against 15 other European nations, with matches taking place in eight cities in Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Poznan, Kiev, Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkiv.
Some of the talent that helped Spain win the World Cup are back including Iker Casillas, Xavi and hero Andres Iniesta. Spanish head coach Vicente Del Bosque sports loads of high-profile attacking players like Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres and David Silva.
Aside from the personnel and tactics, Spain figures to be aided by being in a relatively weak Group C. A formidable nation for years, Italy have fallen from grace with age making them suspect on both sides of the ball. Mario Balotelli will spice things up but if they advance to the knockout round it would be surprising.
Ireland is competing in the Euros for the first time in 24 years and Robbie Keane’s squad will be lucky to get more than three points. Spain’s biggest threat is Croatia, whose aggressive style can cause problems behind the likes of Luka Modric.
A number of nations have legitimate title hopes. The Czech Republic are potential Group A winners with Petr Cech in goal and a young squad that can cause upsets behind Tomas Rosicky. Group D has a pair of formidable nations in England, who have stars like Wayne Rooney and Sweden, led by captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic. If Samir Nasri and France get their act together, they can be in the conversation.
The biggest threats figure to be the nations that advance out of the group of death, namely Group B. The Netherlands, who sport the likes of Arjen Robben; Germany who have a budding prodigy in Mesut Ozil; Portugal, with superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Denmark, behind Nicklas Bendtner, are all capable of eliminating Spain in the knockout stages and making a run to the final.