Spain want to reign again at Euro 2016

ULTRA-COMPETITIVE SQUAD: We've always produced fantastic players, skilful players. It's a matter of how (they function) in a team. Del Bosque (chose) players in this squad to be competitive. - GAIZKA MENDIETA, former Spanish international midfielder,
ULTRA-COMPETITIVE SQUAD: We've always produced fantastic players, skilful players. It's a matter of how (they function) in a team. Del Bosque (chose) players in this squad to be competitive. - GAIZKA MENDIETA, former Spanish international midfielder, on Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque's Euro 2016 preliminary squad selection.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque raised a few eyebrows when he left stars like Diego Costa, Santi Cazorla and Juan Mata out of his Euro 2016 provisional squad.

But former national players Gaizka Mendieta and David Albelda believe the team are still good enough to make the final for the third consecutive edition.

Defending del Bosque's selections, Mendieta, who played in Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup, said: "We've always produced fantastic players, skilful players. It's a matter of how (they function) in a team. Del Bosque (chose) players in this squad to be competitive."

Asked which player could be the difference for Spain as they try to go for a third successive Euro crown, Albelda, who represented his country at two World Cups (2002 and 2006) and Euro 2004, said all players can be key.

Spain, ranked sixth in the world by Fifa, are aiming for their third successive European crown, having won the quadrennial tournament in 2008 and 2012. They were also champions in 1964.

But this edition could prove to be their most challenging yet, with reigning world champions Germany and Belgium (world No. 2) looking to dethrone them.

While Spain were knocked out in the group stage of the last World Cup, with teams seemingly finding a way to counter their possession game, Mendieta said the national team will never change its style.

"We've always played football and kept possession. We can be slightly more direct or less direct... but since we are kids it is how we play football so that's not going to change," said Mendieta, who won 40 caps.

"Hopefully we can go as far to the final. It's a massive tournament with fantastic teams, it's always very difficult but Spain are the defending champions and we want to win again."

Chua Siang Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline 'Spain want to reign again at Euro 2016'. Print Edition | Subscribe