Euro 2012: Fatigue and injury problems for Spain
Madrid: Tiredness and injuries to the squad could spoil Spain`s chances of defending their European crown with some of the big names having already been ruled out of the competition.
Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, Spain`s most influential players, have suffered following a long season with their club. This is likely to be Xavi`s last major tournament and towards the end of the Primera Liga season former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was resting him to protect a long running calf problem.
Iniesta, who scored the winning goal in 2010`s dramatic World Cup final, has been dogged by muscle problems for two years.
Spain will also miss David Villa, the top scorer in the country`s history ruled himself out after breaking his leg in the World Club Championship in December, while the inspirational Carlos Puyol is out with a knee injury.
After a season which saw them win the Copa del Rey, reach the semi-final of the Champions League, as well as playing in the International Club Championships and the Spanish and European Supercups, few of the Barca players in the squad will travel in peak form.
Cesc Fabregas, who has been called up despite a muscle injury, saw his form and fitness dip alarmingly at the end of the season, while Gerard Pique has suffered a campaign hampered by injuries and poor form.
Pique`s form is especially worrying given Puyol`s absence and presents a big question for coach Vicente Del Bosque.
Sergio Ramos has had an exceptional season in central defence for Real Madrid and the coach has the option of staring him as a centre back. However, Del Bosque has always preferred to use him as a full back, where his tendency to rampage forward is less likely to be punished.
Real Madrid quintet Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas, Raul Albiol and Xabi Alonso appeared to have come through the season in good shape, although Alonso suffered a slight dip in form in April.
There is a question mark over Albiol given that Madrid`s Jose Mourinho hardly used him last season. In contrast to other squad members, Albiol`s problem appears to be lack of match practice rather than tiredness.
Other players such as Chelsea`s Juan Mata also ended the season looked tired. Mata has adjusted well to the physical demands of the Barclay`s Premier League, his side won the FA Cup final and the Champions League.
Meanwhile doubts still remain over the form of Fernando Torres, who will be vital given Villa`s absence, despite a poor season with Chelsea.