Spain – Euro 2012
What are the expectations for the team?
Most people expect Spain to become the first national side to win three consecutive major international tournaments. After decades of predictable underachievement, La Roja fans are now pretty comfortable with their new position as the footballing centre of the world. Club success for Barcelona and Real Madrid, and even Athletic Bilbao outclassing Manchester United in the Europa League this season, have helped cement this idea.
Is the coach popular?
Even though he is an ex-Real Madrid boss, Vicente Del Bosque, "the big moustache", is well liked. His understated, grandfatherly approach has worked well. It keeps the pressure off the players and allows them to express themselves. He has shown that he is not a soft touch by dropping Fernando Torres recently and he previously promoted the likes of Sergio Busquets against the wishes of the Madrid-based media.
Have any players appeared in TV commercials or other advertising?
Are there any who have not would be a better question. The Spanish football association are not shy about monetising their brand. They made good use of February's friendly against Venezuela to film an ad for Cruzcampo beer. Spain fans can listen to an online radio station sponsored by energy company Iberdrola, which only plays tracks chosen by Xavi, Carles Puyol and co. Spanish TV viewers often see an embarrassed looking Del Bosque being serenaded by a packed open-plan office in a spot for the insurance company Pelayo.
Which players are good interviewees and who are worst?
The current Spain squad is possibly the brightest as well as the best in history. Senior figures - especially Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Xavi - speak knowledgeably and respectfully about the game, while some of the younger squad members - especially Gerard Piqué, David Silva and Sergio Ramos - will sometimes speak entertainingly out of turn. Those from less high-profile clubs, such as Athletic's Fernando Llorente or Santi Cazorla from Málaga, are also polished media performers.
Are then any players with unusual hobbies or business interests?
The squad tends to keep away from anything that hints at controversy off the pitch. Claiming a love for motorbikes is about the only way to suggest a rebellious streak. Reserve keeper Víctor Valdés, of Barcelona, appeared on stage at last summer's Barcelona Harley Days festival, while Ramos took advantage of a recent free weekend due to suspension to attend the Qatar MotoGP race.
Will there be any rehearsed goal celebrations?
David Villa's matador sweep was among the best celebrations of the last World Cup, but he faces a race against time to be ready for the finals after breaking his leg in December. Andrés Iniesta whipped off his jersey after scoring the winning goal in the 2010 final to reveal a message dedicated to deceased former team-mate Dani Jarque. Torres, even if he sneaks back into the squad, may not have to worry too much about rehearsing any celebrations.
What will the media coverage be like?
The sweetly emotional reaction of former national team coach José Antonio Camacho when commentating on the 2010 final - "Iniesta de mi vida" - still brings a tear to many Spaniards' eyes. The live TV kiss moments after the final whistle between captain Casillas and his reporter girlfriend Sara Carbonero also went down in national history. Both Camacho, whose China team will play Spain in a pre-tournament friendly, and Carbonero, who is currently presenting Spanish Big Brother, will again be on duty for Telecinco this summer.
Will there be many fans travelling to the finals?
Spain does not have a tradition of travelling fans like that of England or Ireland. The ongoing economic crisis is likely to limit numbers but a fair few are predicted to make it to Poland. One sure traveller is Manolo, él del Bombo. Neither Manolo nor his bombo (drum) ever miss a Spanish international match. As well as a passionate football fan and excellent musician, Manolo is also quite the businessman - you can buy his book online. Dermot Corrigan
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