Football News

Spain Route To The Final: Potential Opponents at Euro 2024

By CJ Smith

Spain Route To The Final: Potential Opponents at Euro 2024

Published: 18:02, 7 May 2024

As Euro 2024 approaches, we take a look at who La Roja might face on their route to the European Championships final.

Spain Route To The Euro 2024 Final: Potential Path

Spain head into Euro 2024 looking to maintain their strong recent record at this tournament, reaching at least the semi-final in three of the last four editions, during which time they won back-to-back titles (2008 and 2012) and finished third last time out. In fact, La Roja have lost just two of their last 22 matches at this tournament and will once again be among the favourites. Spain didn’t have it all their own way during qualifying, losing 2-0 to Scotland early on, but they still topped Group A with 21 points from a possible 24.

European Championship Qualification – Group A
Position Team Played Won Drawn Lost GF GA Points
1 Spain 8 7 0 1 25 5 21
2 Scotland 8 5 2 1 17 8 17
3 Norway 8 3 2 3 14 12 11
4 Georgia 8 2 2 4 12 18 8
5 Cyprus 8 0 0 8 3 28 0

Spain’s potential route to Euro 2024 final

Spain’s Group B fixtures

vs Croatia (15 June, 5pm BST) – Spain beat Croatia 5-3 after extra time in a thrilling last-16 clash at Euro 2020, while they also beat them on penalties in the final of the most recent Uefa Nations League, so they might well feel like they have a hold over the 2018 World Cup runners-up. This will be seen by both nations as a chance to make a big statement early on in the ‘group of death’.

vs Italy (20 June, 8pm BST) – Arguably the most eye-catching clash in the entire group stage sees the Euro 2020 winners face the team they beat in the semi-finals. But Spain have beaten Italy in two Nations League semi-finals since then. It’s all set up as an international grudge match and one that could define who finishes top of Group B. Sit back and enjoy.

vs Albania (24 June, 8pm BST) – Everyone else in the group will be viewing their fixture against Albania as a must-win, given the quality on show elsewhere. But it must be noted that the Red and Blacks finished above both the Czech Republic and Poland with just one defeat from eight in their qualifying group, so they cannot be taken lightly. If Spain have done their work beforehand, this could be a game in which they can rotate and rest a few key players.

If Spain finish top of Group B

You might as well flip a coin for the winner of Group B, with Italy, Spain and Croatia all able to make very reasonable claims, while Albania will undoubtedly be keen to prove they’re not just here to make up the numbers. Should Luis de la Fuente’s men finish top, they will face one of the best third-place teams in the round of 16. From there, their most likely route through the tournament is Germany in the quarter-finals, Portugal or the Netherlands in the semi-finals, and then England, France, Spain, Croatia or Belgium in the final. In short, it’ll be tough going.

If Spain finish runner-up in Group B

Runner-up is also a very realistic and respectable return in this group. If that’s the case, Spain will face the Group A runner-up in the last 16, which is most likely to be Hungary or Switzerland. That should then set up a clash with Euro 2020 runners-up England, followed by France or Belgium in the semi-finals.

If Spain finish third in Group B

There is also the very real prospect of Spain going through as one of the best third-place teams given the quality in Group B, but that could present any number of scenarios. The only guarantee here is that La Roja would then meet a group winner in the round of 16. Their most likely opponents would either be from Group E (probably Belgium) or Group F (likely rivals Portugal).

Spain’s Reasons for Optimism

As mentioned, Spain have lost just two of their last 22 matches at the European Championships. If that’s not enough to inspire you, consider that they’ve also reached the last two Nations League finals, winning the most recent one. There’s immense quality right across the pitch and arguably the most technical ability of any side at the tournament, so you can be sure Spain will be able to pass you to death if they get in front. There’s also an exciting young generation emerging, led by Barcelona duo Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsi.

Spain’s Potential Roadblocks

Missing key chances might be what undoes Spain at this tournament. Alvaro Morata is the only player with more than nine international goals to his name among the most recent call-ups, scoring 34 times in 71 caps. However, he is famous for his profligacy in front of goal and has missed 21 big chances in La Liga this season alone — at least two more than any other player. Spain, unfortunately, lack a standout candidate to replace Morata but even if they did, the Atletico Madrid man is the current team captain and wouldn’t be dropped. So, goals must come from elsewhere.

Another obvious issue for anyone in Group B is just getting past that stage at all with three of the world’s elite international sides all occupying the same space. It could be a real meat grinder.

Luis de la Fuente Tactical Insights

Luis de la Fuente has worked with the U19, U21 and U23 sides, so he might just be the perfect man to lead this emerging group of Spanish talents.

We should expect a 4-3-3 formation with Rodri pulling the strings just as he does for Manchester City. However, he’ll get plenty of help in possession from the likes of Fabian Ruiz, Mikel Merino and, if fit, Pedri, while there’s a whole host of attacking full-backs available to push forward and cause havoc.

Morata is a more physical option than most previous Spanish centre-forwards, but he’ll be able to create space for some of their deadly goalscoring wingers, such as Nico Williams, Mikel Oyarzabal and Ferran Torres.

Fan and Media Perspectives

After reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020, there was huge disappointment in Spain’s failure to make it past the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. However, two consecutive Nations League finals are more than enough to prove their pedigree. Spain will always carry a degree of expectation at major tournaments, especially with so many exciting young players coming through, so anything less than matching their 2020 effort will not be met kindly.