Mini football figure - Spain
Miniature football player with kit of the national team of Spain.
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The Spanish national football team is the selection team of the Spanish football association Real Federación Española de Fútbol. Spain won the World Cup in 2010, and the European Championship in 1964, 2008 and 2012. The nickname La Furia Roja means The Red Fury and originated during the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, where the Spanish surprisingly won the silver medal. Spain finished seventh in the February 2022 FIFA World Ranking.
The sport of football reached Spain in the late 19th century, coming mainly from the British Isles. On 21 March 1904, Spain was one of the seven founding European countries of FIFA, but as there was no national association at the time, the country was represented at the founding by the Madrid F.C. club, now Real Madrid. The Spanish governing body was not founded until 1909, but was renamed in 1913 and accepted as a member association by FIFA in 1914.
A national team, led by players such as Josep Samitier, Ricardo Zamora, and Pichichi, was first assembled for participation in the football tournament of the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, where the first official international match was finally played on 28 August 1920 in Brussels against Denmark. The match ended 1-0 to the Iberians and the first goal scorer in history was Patricio of Real Unión. Although they were defeated in the quarter-finals by eventual gold medallists Belgium, the tournament went well. The Spaniards won the silver medal tournament by beating Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands to finish second in their first appearance at an international tournament. The team was nicknamed The Red Fury (La Furia Roja) because of its spirited style of play.
The Spanish national team made its first appearance on home soil in Bilbao on 7 October 1921 against Belgium. The Selección won 2-0 and thus took revenge for the defeat at the Olympic Games. Spain competed again at the 1924 and 1928 Summer Games, but were defeated by Italy in the preliminary round and quarter-finals respectively. A historic encounter took place in Madrid on 15 May 1929: Spain faced England, who at that time had never lost a match against a team from outside the British Isles. The match ended 4-3 in favour of the Iberians and established a rivalry that continues to this day.
First World Cup appearance
After foregoing participation in the 1930 World Cup, the Spanish made their first appearance in Italy in 1934. The tournament was overshadowed by accusations of bribery and manipulation from the fascist regime under Benito Mussolini, and the Spanish were not spared from these controversies. In the quarter-finals, the team met the hosts and after the first match ended in a draw, a replay was played. This was marked by numerous controversial decisions in favour of the Italians and ended in a 1-0 defeat for the Selección. Significantly, the referee of this match, the Swiss René Mercet, was banned for life by his national association due to his performance in this match. The Spanish Civil War, which broke out in July 1936, meant that the Spanish national team did not play another match until the early 1940s.
The 1950 World Cup in Brazil was the first international tournament in which the Spanish participated after the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War and World War II. The team, led by famous names such as Luis Molowny, Antoni Ramallets, Estanislao Basora and Zarra, beat teams from Chile, the USA and England in the preliminary round to reach the final round. There, the selection managed a draw against the eventual world champions Uruguay, but defeats against Sweden and hosts Brazil followed. This was ultimately enough for fourth place in the final, Spain's best finish at a World Cup tournament until the 2010 title. In 1954 and 1958, the Selección failed to qualify for the finals.
1964: European Championship debut and title win
In June 1954, the Spanish association joined UEFA, the European continental association, as one of the founding members. However, the Iberians' participation in the first European Football Championship fell victim to the Cold War. In the round of the last eight, the team, led by stars such as Paco Gento, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Luis Suárez or László Kubala, was considered one of the co-favourites, but withdrew at the behest of the fascist government under General Franco at the time, although the players had already gathered at Madrid airport on their way to Moscow, where they were to play the first leg against the Soviet national team. The Soviet Union, which had supported the Republican troops in the Spanish Civil War and was thus an avowed enemy of the Francoist leadership, refused to play the match on neutral ground as demanded by the Spanish government. UEFA awarded both matches 3-0 to the USSR team
The revenge, and also one of the Selección's greatest successes, was not long in coming. In 1964, Spain hosted the European Championship finals. After the team coached by the successful José Villalonga, peppered with names such as Iribar, Rivilla, Olivella, Calleja, Zoco, Fusté, Pereda, Suárez, Amancio, Marcelino or Lapetra, had defeated Hungary in the semi-finals, they met the national team of the Soviet Union in Madrid on 21 June. The match ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts and gave the Selección their first major title win.
In the years that followed, there were no successes, the Spaniards rarely qualified for World Cup or European Championship finals, and when they did, they were eliminated in the preliminary round, as in the World Cups in 1962, in 1966 and in 1978 or the European Championship in 1980.
Home World Cup 1982
One of the biggest disappointments in the history of the Spanish national team was the 1982 World Cup on home soil. The tournament was awaited with great euphoria, as the country had only just overcome political isolationism and dictatorship and made the transition to democracy. They wanted to show the world their best side, but this did not work out on a sporting level. The Spaniards, coached by José Santamaría, already had big problems in the first group phase, when they only managed a 1-1 draw against outsiders Honduras in their opening match. Although they managed a 2-1 win against Yugoslavia, who were supposed to be the toughest group opponents, they lost 1-0 to Northern Ireland and only reached the second group phase with difficulty. They lost their opening match against Germany and only managed a draw against England, which meant that the Spaniards were eliminated from the tournament at the bottom of the group.
European Championship runners-up 1984
The disappointing 1982 World Cup had led to a change. The veteran Miguel Muñoz, who had already coached the national team in 1969, was appointed as the new coach. Qualifying for the 1984 European Football Championship proved very difficult. Spain and the Netherlands were level on points on the last matchday, but the Dutch had a far better goal difference. When the Selección finally met Malta in Seville on in December 1983, the team not only needed a win but had to win by eleven goals to qualify for the finals, which seemed almost impossible. The game did not start well for the Iberians, they missed a penalty right in the second minute, quickly got the equaliser after taking a 1-0 lead and only managed a 3-1 advantage by the half-time break. In the second half, however, Spain played furious attacking football and scored the decisive 12:1 in the 83rd minute through Juan Señor to secure qualification after all. The match went down in the history of Spanish football despite the weak opponent Malta. After the disappointment of the early exit from the World Cup at home, enthusiasm for the home national team was rekindled.
The final round was also positive for the Iberians. After two draws against Romania and Portugal in their preliminary group, the team beat Germany 1-0 in the decisive match to advance to the semi-finals as group winners. There they faced surprise team Denmark, led by the up-and-coming Michael Laudrup. It was a very close match, the Spaniards won 5-4 on penalties to advance to the final, where they faced hosts France. The final was open for a long time. Only a fatal mistake by Spain's goalkeeper Luis Arconada, who had played a very strong tournament until then, led to France's lead. A direct free kick by Michel Platini slipped through Arconada's hands and the ball rolled over the line. The 1-0 lead for France now allowed counter-attacking chances as Spain's offensive efforts intensified. In the 90th minute, one such counter-attack by left-winger Bruno Bellone decided the final in Paris in favour of the hosts.
The quarter-final curse (1986-2006)
At the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, despite a 1-0 opening defeat to Brazil, the Spanish again put in a strong performance, reaching the last 16 after wins over Northern Ireland and Algeria, where they met the highly-rated Danes, who had earlier in the tournament won against Scotland, Uruguay and Germany with some fine football. The Spaniards, however, beat the Scandinavian secret favourites 5:1. The man of the match was Real Madrid's young star Emilio Butragueño, who scored four goals. When they met Belgium in the quarter-finals, the Iberians were considered favourites due to their furious performance in the previous round, but the game ended in a 1-1 draw. In the penalty shoot-out, Belgian keeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, who had already made the Spanish attackers despair during the regular playing time, saved the Iberians' fifth penalty kick and thus knocked the Spaniards out of the tournament. This was not to be the last major disappointment in a quarter-final. At the 1994 World Cup, the Spaniards lost to Italy in the last eight. Although the Selección played a strong game, creating numerous chances, a goal by Roberto Baggio sealed a 2-1 defeat. Just two years later, at the 1996 European Championships, the Selección again reached the quarter-finals. This time, after a match in which they dominated their opponents for long periods, they were defeated on penalties by hosts England. After a disappointing World Cup in 1998, in which they were eliminated in the preliminary round, they were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the European Championships in 2000 and the World Cup in 2002. While the future captain Raúl missed a penalty shortly before the end of the continental tournament, which would have meant an equaliser against France, the team failed to win the World Cup two years later only in a penalty shoot-out against the hosts South Korea. Particularly bitter for the Spaniards was the fact that they were denied two goals against the Asians. This led to strong criticism in the Spanish media, who, like the Italians, saw their national team as victims of referee manipulation in favour of the hosts South Korea. The fact that the Selección were so often, and often unluckily, eliminated in the last eight led to talk of a veritable quarter-final curse.
With the exception of the 1992 European Championship, the Spanish qualified for all the other tournaments in this period, but were eliminated at an even earlier stage: At the European Championships in the preliminary round (1988, 2004), at the World Championships in the round of 16 (1990 against Yugoslavia after extra time, 2006 against the later finalists France). According to former German international Stielike, who was under contract with Real Madrid during his active career, the Spanish national team's notorious lack of success has been due to the fact that in Spanish clubs that are successful in European competitions, it was often the foreign players who were the top performers and the Spanish national players therefore "lack the experience at major tournaments to set highlights under pressure". Also, for Spanish football fans, club football was more interesting and so the Spanish national team played its home games in smaller stadiums, with separatism in Catalonia and the Basque Country also playing a role; journalists from various parts of Spain criticised the national players from other regions, while their own were spared criticism.
End of the notorious lack of success and three titles in four years (2006-2012)
The qualification for the 2008 European Football Championship in Austria and Switzerland turned out to be unexpectedly difficult for Spain. The team coached by Luis Aragonés, which had already been criticised for its elimination in the last 16 against France in the 2006 World Cup finals, lost the away matches against Sweden and Northern Ireland at the beginning, which is why they were only in third place for a long time, which would not have been enough to qualify for the finals. However, the team achieved eight wins and only one draw in the last nine matches thanks to their tiki-taka tactics and thus ultimately finished their group as first-placed, two points ahead of Sweden.
At the finals themselves, the Spaniards qualified for the quarter-finals in first place in their preliminary group with victories over Russia, Sweden and Greece, where they met the reigning world champions Italy. The match, which was characterised by great caution on both sides (0-0). In the decisive penalty shoot-out, Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas saved two penalties while his counterpart Gianluigi Buffon only saved one shot, thus breaking the quarter-final curse. In the semi-finals, Spain beat Russia 3-0. In the final, Spain beat Germany 1-0 with a goal from Fernando Torres to claim their second continental trophy. David Villa was top scorer at the end of the tournament with a total of four goals.
Following the European Championship title, the Selección moved into first place in the FIFA World Ranking for the first time in history.
The European Championship title was not to be the last success of this generation of players. Although a 2-0 semi-final defeat to the USA in the 2009 Confederations Cup (FIFA) ended a record run of 15 consecutive victories and 35 matches without defeat, the Selección qualified for the World Cup finals with ten wins in ten matches and were regarded as one of the favourites for the 2010 World Cup.
In the first match against Switzerland, however, the team was unable to live up to its role as favourites and, despite overwhelming superiority, lost its first international match against Switzerland by a score of 0:1. For Switzerland, it remained the only goal and the only victory at the World Cup. In the following matches, however, Spain steadily improved as top European Championship scorer David Villa was able to build on his European Championship form and scored a total of five goals. As group winners, Spain met their neighbours Portugal in the round of 16, who were defeated 1:0. With this result, Spain also won the two following matches against Paraguay and Germany and met the Netherlands in the final, who had won six matches up to that point.
In a very hard fought game with seven yellow cards and one yellow-red card for the Dutch and five yellow cards for the Spanish, the Iberians were the dominating team for long stretches, but they could only convert this in the 116th minute for the 1-0 final score through Andrés Iniesta. Spain thus won the World Cup title for the first time and as the eighth country in total. Furthermore, Iker Casillas was awarded the Golden Glove as best goalkeeper and David Villa the Bronze Ball as third best player. Villa finished second in the list of top scorers, level on goals with Thomas Müller, and received the "Silver Shoe".
After the World Cup victory, the team moved up to first place in the FIFA World Ranking with the highest score to date of 1883 points. In 11/2010, Spain was then listed with 1920 points.
Spain won their qualifying group with ease, winning eight games and scoring many goals, and travelled to the 2012 European Championship as one of the top favourites. At the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, Spain became the first team to defend its title and the first European team to win three titles in a row. This had previously only been achieved by Uruguay at the Copa América 1922, the Olympic Games 1924 and the Copa América 1924. In the process, the 4-0 win over Italy in the final set a new record for goals scored in European Championship finals. In the knockout games of the last three tournaments, Spain have not conceded a goal. Twelve players could become European champions for the second time: Albiol, Alonso, Arbeloa, Casillas (both times as captain), Cazorla, Fàbregas, Iniesta, Ramos, Reina, Silva, Torres and Xavi. In addition, Andrés Iniesta was named best player of the European Championship and ten Spanish players were named to the all-star team.
Early exits in Brazil, France and Russia (2012-2018)
In the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, Spain had to face France, Finland, Georgia and Belarus in Europe Group I. The Selección won undefeated ahead of France. The Selección won the group undefeated ahead of France. Only in the home games against France and Finland (both 1-1) did Spain draw. The other six games were won. Nevertheless, it took until the last matchday on 15 October 2013 before the group victory was achieved. In Albacete, Spain beat Georgia 2-0 to qualify for the World Cup.
The preliminary round saw a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands in the first group match. In this match, the Spanish team lost 1:5, which was the highest defeat of a reigning world champion in a World Cup preliminary round. In addition, the Selección met Chile, as they did in the 2010 group stage, and Australia for the first time in the last group match. The match against Chile was lost 0:2, meaning that the world champions Spain were already eliminated in the group stage. The press spoke of the end of an era and a twilight of the gods. The final match against Australia, which had become insignificant, was won 3:0.
After the disaster at the 2014 World Cup, the Spanish national team's engine sputtered in the following matches as well. The mission to make amends got off to a slow start, with a 1-0 defeat to France in a friendly match. Vicente del Bosque's team then plunged into the upcoming European Championship qualifiers full of hope. A commanding 5:1 win over Belarus in the opening game was followed by another defeat - they were beaten 1:2 in Slovakia. After that, however, the Selección stabilised and secured victory in qualifying Group C without dropping another point.
Indeed, at the 2016 European Championship in France, the defending champions looked set to soar to new heights. Victories against the Czech Republic and Turkey ensured early progress, so that the defeat against Croatia at the end of the preliminary round was seen as a slip-up. But in the last 16, Spain were taught a lesson in tactical flexibility. The Italians brought Spanish possession football to a standstill for long stretches. The Selección were unable to find a way against their perfectly prepared opponents and were eliminated with a 2-0 defeat.
After a dominant qualifying campaign with nine wins, one draw and many goals, Spain punched their ticket to the World Cup in Russia. However, head coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked two days before the team's opening match against Portugal after announcing his signing by Real Madrid for the new season. The unsettled Furia Roja was briefly taken over by the relatively inexperienced former international Fernando Hierro. Draws against Portugal and Morocco followed, as did a lacklustre 1-0 win over Iran, which despite everything meant victory in the group and a place in the final round.
In the round of 16, the score was still 1-1 after 120 minutes against a passionately fighting host Russia (with the Spanish goal having been scored by an opponent), so a penalty shoot-out was needed to decide the match. While the Russians converted four penalties, keeper Akinfeyev held attempts from Koke and Aspas, which meant elimination for Spain.
Rebuilding under Luis Enrique and Robert Moreno (since 2018)
After the group opponents Norway, Sweden, Malta, Romania and the Faroe Islands had all been defeated in the qualifiers, Faroe twice, a draw against Norway and Sweden was enough to secure a place in the finals two matchdays before the end on 15 October 2019. The draws were achieved and after successful qualification, two clear victories against Malta (7-0) and Romania (5-0) followed at the end. Luis Enrique then returned as head coach in November 2019, and under him the 2020 team won three games, four ended in draws and one was lost. Within those eight games, Ansu Fati made his debut at 17 years and 308 days, becoming Furia Roja's second-youngest debutant. While Sergio Ramos played his 177th international match in November, overtaking Italy's Gianluigi Buffon as the European record player, the young goalkeeper Unai Simón, new to the team, and 20-year-old striker Ferrán Torres, who scored four times in seven matches, made a particularly positive impression. Moreover, the last match of the year on 17 November ended 6-0 in Spain's favour against Germany; the 2014 world champions had not lost by such a margin since 1931, when they were still the national team of the Weimar Republic. At the 2021 European Championship, Spain drew with Sweden (0-0) and Poland (1-1) before beating Slovakia (5-0). Qualifying for the last 16 as group runners-up, Spain played Croatia and won 5-3 after extra time. The quarter-final against Switzerland ended 1-1 after extra time, but Spain won the subsequent penalty shoot-out 3-1 and qualified for the semi-final against Italy, which they lost on penalties.
Spain qualified for the 2022 World Cup in the winter of 2021 after beating Sweden, Greece, Georgia and Kosovo. Six games were won, one game each ended in defeat and a draw. Striker Raúl de Tomás, goalkeeper Robert Sánchez, midfielders Gavi and Carlos Soler, and defender Aymeric Laporte made their debuts for the national team in the matches.
The national coach is appointed by the Spanish federation RFEF. In the early years of the national team, it was usually not a coach who took charge of the selection, but a committee of up to eight team leaders. The national coach with the longest tenure to date is László Kubala, who played 68 matches between 1969 and 1980. The most matches and victories were achieved by Vicente del Bosque, under whose leadership the Seleccíon won 87 matches in 114 encounters, including 14 competitive match victories (6 World Cup matches + 8 European Championship qualifiers) and 29 consecutive non-losing competitive matches (24 victories, 5 draws). This means that more matches have been won under del Bosque than under Kubala, the coach with the second most matches.
- 61 mm
- 40 gramms