Spain 2016: Mullets, tattoos and Chris Eubank
SpainÃ¢ÂÂs unsurprising 6-0 win over Liechtenstein on Tuesday night sealed a wrinkle-free qualification through to the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and the Ukraine. And that got LLLÃ¢ÂÂs noggin a-bogglin'.
While the make-up of the Spain squad for that competition and even the World Cup in 2014 could look similar, barring a few Xavi- and Puyol-shaped tweaks, the blog started contemplating how a 4-3-3 Spain in five years' time may well look for Euro 2016 in FranceÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Manager Ã¢ÂÂ Pep GuardiolaYet another year of trying to win every trophy going, being charming and magnanimous whilst putting up with JosÃÂ© MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs eye-poking dottiness is more than enough for the BarÃÂ§a boss and his struggling hairline. A year away from the game, followed by a season racking up the cash for a club in Qatar, puts Pep in prime position to take over from the retiring Vicente del Bosque in 2014 and kick off the mother of all anti-Madrid Marca conspiracies as Guardiola calls up most of the Masia U-17 side for a qualifier against Wales, just to see what happens.
Goalkeeper Ã¢ÂÂ David de Gea By 2016, the Manchester United keeperÃ¢ÂÂs wonderful follicular fin stands three feet high and is topped off by the traditional Spanish mullet, once so beloved of Rayo VallecanoÃ¢ÂÂs Fernando Torres. The early wobbles and "new Massimo Taibi" taunts of his first months at Old Trafford are swiftly forgotten Ã¢ÂÂ as are the memories of De Gea ever having played for AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid, the United man using his wealth hiring hackers to wipe that embarrassing episode from history.
Right-back Ã¢ÂÂ Sergio RamosHaving told anyone eyeing his right-back berth that he won't give it up without a fight Ã¢ÂÂ literally Ã¢ÂÂ the Real Madrid man holds the position for a further half-decade. Even in 2016 the defender, now 31, is still sprightly, even if his signature late hacks from behind aren't as (un)timely as in the glory days.
Centre-back Ã¢ÂÂ Alberto BotÃÂaDespite being parachuted into the Spain squad at the age of 22 for the September 2011 matches against Chile and Liechtenstein, the former Barcelona boy turned Sporting star doesn't have an easy path to becoming Gerard PiquÃÂ©Ã¢ÂÂs defensive partner. Tactfully ignoring those three formative teenage years at la Masia he is bundled into the Santiago Bernabeu (after Ricardo Carvalho falls out with Pepe for good) and anointed another 'new Hierro'Ã¢ÂÂ only to become the new bench-bothering RaÃÂºl AlbÃÂol. However, then Florentino PÃÂ©rez is forced to hire BotÃÂaÃ¢ÂÂs former Gijon gaffer Manuel Preciado, having run out of coaches to ask. Being under his mentor puts BotÃÂaÃ¢ÂÂs career back on track, with many a happy night for Spain.
Centre-back Ã¢ÂÂ Gerard PiquÃÂ©Being dumped by Shakira for GetafeÃ¢ÂÂs Miguel Torres in late 2012 sends PiquÃÂ© into a Hamburger Elvis phase for a couple of seasons, but the seething rage burning inside the Catalan defender still produces campaign after campaign of wondrous performances for club and country Ã¢ÂÂ despite the increasing length of time it takes to trundle up and down the field to harass the referee. By 2016 PiquÃÂ© is 29, in his pomp and dedicating a passionate version of Against All Odds to Shakira during his post-Euro-2016-winning interview with Sara CarboneraÃ¢ÂÂs younger replacement. Whom he then tries to get off with.
Left-back Ã¢ÂÂ Nacho MonrealMoving to MÃÂ¡laga in summer 2011 was the best move the left-back ever made. While at Osasuna, international call-ups often led to sudden injury and Alvaro Arbeloa taking his berth. But all this will be a fading memory for the Pamplona-born defender who will be 29 in 2015 with two years at Real Madrid under his belt after MÃÂ¡laga go bust due to the 2013 Great Oil War instigated by President Michelle Bachmann.
Midfield Ã¢ÂÂ Sergio BusquetsA hopping mad Madrid press is forced to watch and admire BarcelonaÃ¢ÂÂs stranglehold on SpainÃ¢ÂÂs midfield for a further five years. WhatÃ¢ÂÂs more, Sergio Busquets simply canÃ¢ÂÂt be budged out of his holding position. Indeed the BarÃÂ§a midfielder matures into his role of all-round dastardly villain of football by tattooing an evil black eye-mask and twirly moustache onto his face after an unfortunate black-out ending, team-building night out with the controversially appointed new Barcelona boss Dani GÃÂ¼iza.
Midfield Ã¢ÂÂ Cesc FabregasWinning 57 domestic trophies in the five years since leaving Arsenal makes Cesc Fabregas the outcast of both the Barcelona and Spain dressing rooms by 2015: having received 15 years' worth of Camp Nou self-satisfaction in a third of the recommended time, the BarÃÂ§a No.4 is still immensely gifted but utterly intolerable after mere minutes in his extraordinarily smug company.
Midfield Ã¢ÂÂ Santi CazorlaIn 2011 it seems as if the wonderfully talented Thiago should be SpainÃ¢ÂÂs first-choice playmaker for years Ã¢ÂÂ and indeed the BarÃÂ§a midfielder makes the position his own for two seasons. But the sight of CazorlaÃ¢ÂÂs disappointed, sad puppy face being repeatedly told that he wonÃ¢ÂÂt be starting breaks GuardiolaÃ¢ÂÂs heart to such an extent that the hyper-motivated midfielder is a first pick every time for PepÃ¢ÂÂs side.
Forward Ã¢ÂÂ PedroPoor old Pedro spends another five years being forgotten by pundits talking about BarcelonaÃ¢ÂÂs star-studded line-up. Ã¢ÂÂWhat a team, Clive: Messi, Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, PiquÃÂ©, Alexis.Ã¢ÂÂ Not even the tiny words Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm a World Cup winner as well, you knowÃ¢ÂÂ secretly sown into his club shirt seem to make much of a difference. But it doesnÃ¢ÂÂt stop the Canary Islander picking up a whole bag of caps for his country.
Forward Ã¢ÂÂ Alvaro NegredoThe general bolshiness of the Sevilla striker increases in direct correlation to the number of goals he bangs in over the next five years. Which is a lot. In 2011, Negredo pushes Fernando Llorente and Fernando Torres out of the Spanish squad; in 2013, itÃ¢ÂÂs David VillaÃ¢ÂÂs turn to be dumped on his bum Ã¢ÂÂ literally, after an unfortunate training ground incident influenced by the pumped-up Primera Pichichi spending an ill-advised all-nighter watching cage-fighting.
Forward Ã¢ÂÂ David Silva Following a chance encounter with Chris Eubank after a Manchester City match, David Silva encourages the constant description of him as Ã¢ÂÂelegantÃ¢ÂÂ by never being seen without a top hat and monocle during a three-year spell in the Premier League. A return to a newly-enriched Valencia soon brings Silva down to earth, though.