In 2008, the Spain national football team won their first UEFA European Championship title since 1964. In 2012, after winning a World Cup two years earlier, they won it again. The trio of international victories handily established the Spanish national team as the best in the world. More than that, though, the triumphs created a fairly compelling argument that this modern incarnation of the Spain national team was the greatest football squad ever assembled. But, can Spain retain the European Championship title in next year's Euro 2016 tournament?

A Fall from Grace

But time changes everything. Since their last Euro victory, Spain have fallen out of the top spot on FIFA's world rankings (they are currently in 10th, behind France and in front of Switzerland). The fall from grace is due almost solely to Spain's disastrous run at last summer's World Cup in Brazil. Rather than Spain 2014 World Cup Home Shirtdefending their 2010 title, the Spanish side was eliminated from the soccer tournament after just two group stage matches-faster than any defending champion since 1950.

To make matters worse, the Red Fury's exit from the 2014 World Cup happened in the most agonizing way possible for fans in the Spain home jersey 2014 2015. It started with a rematch against the Netherlands-the team Spain had edged out to win the finals in 2010. Rather than a repeat victory, though, the Spaniards got trounced by the Dutch, losing 1-5 in their first game of the FIFA tournament.

A subsequent 0-2 loss against Chile was the final nail in Spain's coffin. And while a 3-0 win against Australia gave the soccer team a taste of redemption, they still exited the tournament in 23rd place (out of 32 teams).

Spain's Euro 2016 Qualification Status

Spain's disastrous World Cup run was certainly a hard pill for fans to swallow. What it means now, though, is that the squad will have an opportunity to enter Euro 2016 as something that defending champions almost never are: underdogs.

So far, there is no reason to believe that the wearers of the Spain home jersey 2014 2015 couldn't defend their title at Euro 2016. Going into their second qualifying game of 2015 (a June 14th away match against Belarus), they are in second place in Group C. They've won four of their five games, only losing in a close 2-1 battle with Slovakia (the as-yet-undefeated group leaders). Their victories have been big, though, including a 5-1 triumph over Macedonia, a 4-0 win in Luxembourg, and a previous 3-0 victory against Belarus. The team's last competitive match-a March 17th home game qualifier with Ukraine-ended in a 1-0 win. 

One Of The Best Spanish National Teams For A Long Time

In order to become a contender again, though, the Spanish national football team seems to be going through a changing of the guard. Most of the players who were a part of the team's 2008 Euro title or their 2010 World Cup victory have retired from international soccer or are in the process of doing so.

David Villa, Xavi Hernandez, and Xabi Alonso all retired in the wake of the 2014 World Cup. Other recent greats, like Diego Costa and Ander Herrara, have reportedly been omitted from the Spanish squad for this weekend's qualifier against Belarus, with coach Vicente Del Bosque giving younger players their first chance at national team play instead. Andres Iniesta will also miss the Belarus match due to recent muscle pain.

Del Bosque hasn't indicated any plans to drop Costa, Herrara, or Iniesta from the Spain squad on a permanent basis (though Costa, who is Brazilian-born, has been the subject of much controversy since he started playing for Spain last year). Still, it's clear that Del Bosque is interested in developing younger talent, which is why players like Aleix Vidal and Sergio Rico are getting their first-ever caps for Spain's senior team. A changing of the guard, it seems, is taking place right before our eyes.

Only time will tell if the new version of the Spanish national team can measure up to what the squad looked like four or five years ago. However, as Euro 2016 qualification play continues, the Red Fury's chances of defending their title at next year's competition are looking better and better. Celebrate that fact today, by picking up a new Spain football shirt from Soccer Box.