For decades Spain were a side with a handful of talented players but lacked the depth to truly challenge at World Cups or European Championships. They had made the quarter-finals in of the World Cup in both 1994 and 2002, as well as in the 1996 and 2000 European championships, but soon a change would come.
Barcelona and Real Madrid, Spain's biggest club sides, were having a renaissance and were beginning to dominate club football thanks to the development of home-grown talent and tactics. Tiki-taka was taking over the club level, and soon it took over the international scene too. Spain became a patient, possession-heavy team, and won Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, and Euro 2012.
Since then though, Spain have fallen from atop world football. They lost in the second round in Euro '16 and World Cup 2018. In Football Manager 19 you can step into the job as manager of Spain and try and win the World Cup once again. RealSport has all you need to know about the Spain job.
Expectations & Philosophies
Unlike when you start with a club, when you take over the Spanish national job there are no expectations or philosophies. This is because the only competition Spain are in when you take the reins is the newly formed European International League Division A. This is effectively a friendly tournament to make the time between European and World Cup qualifying campaigns more interesting. Spain are in a group with England and Croatia and will play both of them twice. This serves as a nice series of warmup games for you to decide on your best lineup and the best formation and tactics for you to use.
However, once the European Championship Qualifying starts you will be expected to qualify with ease and then make a deep run in the tournament itself. Even a semi-final spot may not be enough to keep the axe from falling.
While Spain and tiki-taka are tied together, some modern twists need to be taken, and for the current Spain side a vertical tiki-taka tactical style is more suitable. This emphasises moving the ball vertically rather than side to side but still asks your players to retain possession and press hard when it is lost.
There are not many teams in the world that have players better suited to dominating possession than Spain, meaning you shouldn't need to change your own tactics too much, but you may want to change the mentality of your team depending on the opposition. Starting as balanced and then moving to positive after 20 minutes will be ideal against most teams, but in the later stages of tournaments you may want to start with a more cautious approach before moving to a balanced one.
The classic 4-3-3 formation is described by FM19 as a 4-1-4-1 DM Wide formation. It is very reminiscent of Spain at their peak, but some of the names are different now.
David de Gea is your goalkeeper and one of the best in the world. The back four is made up of Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, and Jordi Alba. Sergio Busquets takes the defensive midfield role while the Atletico Madrid pair of Koke & Saul are your midfield duo. Real Madrid stars Isco and Marco Asensio are your wide support players for Diego Costa who is the single striker.
International games allow you to have the whole squad on the bench, meaning you no long have to compromise quality for positional versatility among your subs. This also means you can more easily change between formations during a game. If you are struggling to break down an opponent then going to a 4-2-3-1 and bringing off Sergio Busquets for a second striker like Paco Alcacer or another attacking midfielder like David Silva would be the best course of action.
Spain have a lot of talented players at their disposal, but which players are the best in the national pool? Which can you rely on to drive the team forward and make them an international powerhouse once again?
David de Gea - CA 4 star (179), PA 4.5 star (183)
David de Gea arrived at Manchester United in 2011 as a 21-year-old keeper for just £19 million. He had yet to be capped at senior level by Spain and was nothing more than a talented but unproven young player. Since then he has developed into the unquestioned #1 for Spain and is perhaps the best goalkeeper in world football.
In FM19 de Gea's 179 CA is second among all goalkeepers, and at 28 it won't be going down any time soon. Spain do have another talented keeper in Kepa Arrizabalaga, but he isn't close to David de Gea's level just yet.
David Silva - CA 4 star (179), PA 4 star (179)
David Silva started his career at Valencia and received his senior debut in 2014. In 2010 Silva made a £26 million move to Manchester City where he has become one of the most effective creative midfielders in the world. Silva's quickness and talent with the ball at his feet has helped City become a dominant force in English and European football.
In FM19 Silva is a remarkable player at the top of his game. With 19 flair, 19 vision, and 19 passing he holds the key to unlocking any defence. However, Silva will be 34 when the next tournament comes around. Despite his 179 CA he may not be so capable for Euro 2020, making it a tough choice to play him or give game time to younger players.
Sergio Ramos - CA 4 star (174), PA 4 star (174)
Sergio Ramos has long been the leader of club and country. He was a vital part of Spain's golden era first as a right back and then in his more natural centre back role. He captained Spain for the first time in 2010 and took over the captains armband full time in 2016 as Iker Casillas fell out of the first team. Ramos has won everything there is to win in his career at Real Madrid and with Spain, and has amassed over 150 caps for his country.
In FM19 Ramos is one of the best centre backs around, his 174 CA means he is a special player, but like David Silva he will be 34 when the next tournament comes around. He has terrific defensive talents with 20 heading, 20 determination, and 18 tackling. It will be hard to move on from Ramos, but you should start to find the next generation at centre back for Euro 2020.
With many of Spain's key players starting to age out you will have to look to younger players sooner rather than later. Who are the stars of the future that could restore Spain to glory?
Mikel Oyarzabal - CA 2.5 star (148), PA 5 star (167)
Mikel Oyarzabal is a product of the Real Sociedad youth system. He rose through their ranks and made his first team debut in October 2015 at the age of just 18. He's played over 130 games for Real Sociedad since then, scoring 20 goals over the last two seasons and received his first and only senior Spanish cap in May 2016.
In FM19 Oyarzabal is already a very talented player. A well-rounded creative midfielder, Oyarzabal has 15 leadership and 15 decisions to help utilise his 15 passing, 15 technique, and 14 finishing. His 167 PA means he could develop into a leading player for Spain even as early as Euro 2020.
Dani Olmo - CA 2 star (133), PA 4.5 star (150-180)
Another midfield prospect for Spain is Dinamo's Dani Olmo. Olmo started his career with Espanyol but moved to Barcelona's elite youth system at the age of 9 in 2007. At 16 he made a surprise move to Dinamo Zagreb and almost immediately received first-team action. He's created a lot of chances for Dinamo and has made nearly 100 appearances for the first team in all competitions, including in Europe.
In FM19 Olmo's PA range of 150-180 is extremely high, and while the likelihood of him hitting the top of that range is slim, he can still be an extremely influential player for Spain. His well-developed mental attributes like 16 determination and 15 work rate help his 16 first touch, 15 dribbling, and 14 passing play well.
Sergio Gomez - CA 2 star (120), PA 5 star (150-180)
More of a central midfielder than attacking one, Sergio Gomez is another player who left Barcelona surprisingly early in an effort to get first-team football as quickly as possible. Gomez joined Barca in 2010 as the age of 10 but in January 2018 signed with German side Borussia Dortmund who are notorious for their ability to develop young players into world class talents. He has received a few first team appearances for Dortmund and is already displaying his quality.
In FM19 Gomez's 150-180 PA range is very high and he is already a strong player. His 17 technique, 16 first touch, and 16 vision make him a potential star midfielder for Spain in the same mould as Xavi & Iniesta. He may not quite hit those heights but if he can get near them you can build your squad around him for years to come.
|David de Gea||GK||27||179/183||£56m|
|Alvaro Odriozola||D (R)||22||152/163||£19.75m|
|Dani Carvajal||D (RL) WB (R)||26||158/162||£45.5m|
|Hector Bellerin||D (R) WB (R)||23||151/162||£31.5m|
|Jordi Alba||D (L) WB (L) M (L) AM (L)||29||161/166||£45.5m|
|Cesar Azpilicueta||D (RLC) WB (RL)||28||149/165||£47.5m|
|Gerard Pique||D (C)||31||169/170||£57m|
|Sergio Ramos||D (C)||32||174/174||£58m|
|Raul Albiol||D (C)||32||150/161||£14.5m|
|Sergio Busquets||DM M (C)||29||166/171||£60m|
|Thiago||DM M (C) AM (C)||27||167/173||£58m|
|Saul||DM M (RC)||23||156/169||£39m|
|David Silva||M (RLC) AM (RLC)||32||179/179||£67m|
|Vitolo||M (RL) AM (RL)||28||155/158||£34m|
|Isco||M (RLC) AM (RLC)||26||169/180||£58m|
|Marco Asensio||AM (RLC)||22||155/185||£34m|
|Diego Costa||ST (C)||29||162/168||£55m|
|Paco Alcacer||ST (C)||24||153/157||£26.5m|
|Alvaro Morata||ST (C)||25||152/170||£52m|
Lead the next generation to glory
Spain's golden era is behind them. The likes of Ramos, Pique, and Silva will be unlikely to make it to Euro 2020. This leaves you with the burden of transitioning the national side to the next generation while also keeping them highly competitive. Expectations are still extremely high despite recent poor results in tournament football, so don't expect and easy time of things if you get off to a slow start.
It will be on your shoulders to find replacements for the heroes of old which is no easy task, but there is talent out there to be uncovered. You should look to Barcelona and Real Madrid of course, but don't ignore the young Spaniards that are gaining experience abroad either.