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Spain Euro squad 2008 vs 2024: Rodri attempting to emulate Xavi

Sports Mole takes a look at three players in the current Spain squad who will be looking to emulate the roles of former European Championship winners.

The Spain Euro squad 2008 was the start of a golden generation of superstars who won an unmatched three consecutive major tournaments between 2008-12 (Euro 2008, 2010 FIFA World Cup, Euro 2012).

There were some truly legendary names in the 2008 squad, including captain Iker Casillas, Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Xavi, Fernando Torres and Sergio Ramos among others.

The spine of the team was Spain's real strength, as a centre-back partnership of Puyol and Carlos Machena, both of whom were named in the Team of the Tournament (TOTT) alongside Casillas, kept three clean sheets in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

Marcos Senna and Xavi helped control the tempo of the game in midfield, and were also named in the TOTT, while Villa was Spain's sixth inclusion and finished as the tournament's top scorer with four goals. Torres formed a deadly forward duo, and he scored the all-important winner in the final against Germany, as Spain ran out 1-0 winners.

Here, we have taken a deeper look at three in particular that will be looking to emulate the roles of the Euros winners.


Spain's Rodri scores their first goal from the penalty spot on March 26, 2024© Reuters

Then vs. Now

Xavi vs. Rodri

There is no doubt that Rodri will be Spain's talisman at Euro 2024, having established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world after winning his fourth consecutive Premier League back in May. He will likely try to get on the ball and dictate play in midfield, like Xavi did for Spain at Euro 2008 and beyond.

Xavi was voted as the Player of the Tournament (POTT) in 2008, and Rodri will likely be held to the same heights should Spain go on to win Euro 2024.

Their club stats in their respective seasons before the Euros are very similar too, as Xavi scored nine goals in all competitions for FC Barcelona in the 2007/08 campaign, while Rodri also netted nine times for City in the 2023/24 season.

However, Rodri recorded more assists – 14 to Xavi's nine – and won two club trophies to Xavi's none. Nonetheless, he will be seen as equally as important of a player for Spain in the Euros this time around as Xavi was for his country.

Andres Iniesta in action for Spain on November 11, 2017© Reuters

Iniesta vs. Merino

Xavi's midfield partner for club and country Iniesta was a player that started to burst onto the scene in 2008 at 24 years old. Indeed, he would then go on to score a famous winner in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands, and hold many other accolades for Barcelona and Spain.

Iniesta was slightly different to Xavi in the respect that he often made forward runs into the box from midfield, meaning he tended to score more goals. In his early Spain career, and indeed in Euro 2008, he was often deployed as a winger.

One player who will be looking to support the attack from midfield at Euro 2024 is Mikel Merino, who netted eight times for Real Sociedad in all competitions this season. Incidentally, that is double what Iniesta managed (four) for Barcelona in the 2007/08 campaign before Euro 2008, but the latter has an unmatched trophy cabinet and overall legacy in the game.

Fernando Torres in action for Spain on June 1, 2012© Reuters

Torres vs Morata

The same age as Iniesta at 24, Torres was a player just coming into his prime at Euro 2008. Indeed, he scored the winner in the final, but his strike partner Villa outscored him overall in the tournament.

Nonetheless, he was a truly breathtaking player in his peak, as he scored 33 goals in all competitions for Liverpool in the 2007/08 season, including 24 in the Premier League alone. Torres was known for his raw pace, as he would often leave defenders behind when running onto through balls.

Alvaro Morata has never really hit those kinds of numbers in a season at club level, and he is a different type of striker to Torres in that he likes to use his physical presence more and bring others into play. However, he is catching up on Torres' goal record for Spain (38), and just three more at Euro 2024 would see Morata draw level with the Spanish legend.

So ultimately, the Euro 2024 squad is not quite the same level of quality, but there can still be some comparisons made in terms of the players heading out to Germany to those who played in 2008.

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