Depleted Spain show why they’re favourites as rivals stutter

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It says much about the strength in depth of the Spanish talent pool that, despite missing all Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao players due to their participation in the Copa del Rey final, Vicente del Bosque was still able to name a side capable of comfortably beating a strong Serbian side 2-0 on Saturday.

Such is their abundance of class on offer that debutant goalscorer Adrian Lopez – who opened the scoring in the 64th minute and also assisted the second when tripped in the box before Santi Cazorla converted a 74th minute penalty – still didn’t do enough to make the Spanish squad for the Euros, finding himself behind rival strikers Fernando Torres, Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Llorente and Pedro.

Robert Soldado is another to count himself unlucky at missing out, while it’s also worth remembering Spanish top scorer David Villa is out due to injury.

Meanwhile, while England have been forced to call up a Championship goalkeeper who didn’t make a single league appearance for Birmingham last season, Manchester United number one David de Gea is also deemed surplus to requirements for Spain, failing to dislodge any of the top three keepers Iker Casillas, Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina.

It’s a formidable squad and one that their rivals are unable to match, if other friendly results are anything to go by.

Germany – 3/1 second favourites to lift the European Championships trophy for the fourth time this summer – were surprisingly beaten 5-3 in Switzerland on Saturday despite the likes of Ozil, Khedira, Klose and Podolski forming a largely first choice XI, while 7/1 third favs Holland were also on the end of a shock defeat – falling 2-1 at home to Bulgaria – a side not even good enough to qualify for this summer’s competition.

The Dutch were largely disappointing despite a Robin van Persie strike opening the scoring in the 45th minute, with the likes of van der Vaart, Sneijder and Huntelaar all unable to add to the Arsenal man’s strike before Popov equalised in the 50th minute and Mitsanki scored a 93rd minute winner.

It leaves Spain out in front at 5/2 favs to retain the title they won for the first time in 2008.

If that price is too short for some, then money could well be made on their superb attacking threat – with Torres the shortest Spanish striker at 12/1 to finish top scorer and Llorente next in line at 14/1, still however some way behind favourites Gomez (7/1), Van Persie (10/1), Klose (12/1) and Ronaldo (12/1).

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.