Until Spain beat South Korea by five goals on Thursday, nobody seemed to be talking about them as serious contenders for Euro 2016.
Even as the reigning champions, the hype for the likes of France, Germany and Belgium seemed to be much stronger than that for La Roja.
Maybe it’s because they didn’t make it out of the group stage of the World Cup two years ago.
Maybe it’s because they flew under the radar in qualifying with consistent one or two goal wins, never really scoring an emphatic victory, except the 4-0 win over Luxembourg in October 2015.
Maybe it’s because their 2016 form has left much to be desired, two draws away to Italy and Romania in March not exactly filling their fans with hope.
However this week Vicente del Bosque’s team has produced a strong pre-tournament statement, defeating Bosnia 3-1 and South Korea 6-1 in less than a week, with one more friendly remaining against Georgia before their first group game against the Czech Republic.
Why wouldn’t Spain be talked about?
They won the Euros back to back in 2008 and 2012, the bulk of their players play their trade at the best clubs in the world, and they’ve spent more time at the top of FIFA’s world rankings in the last decade than any other nation.
Del Bosque has opted for a squad leaning more towards the experienced side too, with captain Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Andrés Iniesta and Cesc Fàbregas all having received over 100 caps, and David Silva set to reach the century during the tournament, currently sitting on 98.
The Spanish forward line are in a period of transition, and with David Villa and Fernando Torres no longer being called up, new strikers need to be blooded.
The final third of pitch will be relatively inexperienced, with Chelsea’s Pedro the only player over ten caps, with 57 at the time of writing.
The goalscoring responsibilities will fall upon the young Álvaro Morata (9 caps), and Celta Vigo’s Nolito (8 caps), whose outstanding La Liga season warranted his call-up for the tournament at 29 years old.
It seems del Bosque no longer wants to persist with the Diego Costa experiment, after his ten appearances for the national team yielded only one solitary goal.
The lack of experience in the attacking areas of the pitch could come down to the fact that Barcelona and Real Madrid don’t start any Spanish players across their front threes anymore.
Real Madrid’s Lucas Vázquez is the only fully-fledged forward player in the national squad from either of Spain’s big two, and he doesn’t even start for his club side.
Maybe the lack of anticipation for this Spain squad is a result of the excitement for the club sides coming from the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Bale.
One would be foolish to rule out Spain however, despite their abysmal showing at the last major tournament, they’re a team of winners who expect to win, and will give their all to do it.