Ever since last year's World Cup, the narrative with the Spanish national football team has been that they are experiencing a decline. The squad's dismal performance in Brazil-where they were partially expected to win a second straight World Cup title, but were instead eliminated from tournament contention after just two group stage fixtures-plus the retirement of numerous key players, left Spain looking weak. Indeed, going into the 2014 World Cup, Spain were at number one on FIFA's world rankings list; today, they've dropped down to 11th, surpassed by Germany, Argentina, and even England. But recent fixtures have seen an improvement in performance as Spain lead Euro 2016 qualifying Group C, is this an indication of a rise back to prominence?

Ironic Underdogs

As the qualifying competitions began for the 2016 European Championship, it seemed as if the Spain Spain 2014 World Cup Home Shirtdecline narrative was only going to continue. While the Red Fury kicked things off in style, with a rousing at-home win against Macedonia (with a score of 5-1), they picked up a loss in their very next qualifying game, losing 1-2 to Slovakia. And since Spain won all eight of their qualifying games for the previous European Championships, that loss was perceived as a clear sign of weakness.

The result of the "Spanish decline" narrative arc, though, is that the Spaniards have essentially been labeled as underdogs heading into Euro 2016-ironic, considering the fact that they are the event's reigning champions. In fact, the last time another country won Euro, it was 2004, and Greece were clinching the title. Spain won in both 2008 and 2012, which means they are still favorites to contend for or win next year's soccer tournament in France.

Spain vs. Slovakia

The Spanish side's underdog narrative may be coming to an end, though. On Saturday, September 5th, they donned the Spain home jersey 2014 2015 for a rematch against Slovakia. With the home field advantage on their side, the Red Fury were able to avoid a repeat of their earlier loss against the Slovakian team, scoring two goals in the first half hour of the match to secure a 2-0 victory.

Spain ruled the game from the get-go, with FC Barcelona defender Jordi Alba scoring a goal just five minutes into regulation time. The Red Fury went on to dominate the match in every single way, from possession of the ball (which they held for 75% of the match) to on-target shots (nine, versus Slovakia's four). They even played a cleaner game, with Slovakia players picking up two yellow cards. In fact, Spain's second goal-a 30-minute shot from Andres Iniesta-was a penalty goal.

Back in the Lead

The win put Spain back into the lead in Euro qualifying Group C-a position Slovakia had held since beating the Spaniards last October. An additional victory just three days later (a 1-0 away win against Macedonia) only further cemented Spain's position-especially since Slovakia drew their second September qualifier 0-0 with the Ukraine.

The wins show that, while Spain might not be as strong of a soccer team as they were a few years ago, they are still a force to be reckoned with and a clear Euro 2016 contender. Indeed, Spain have now won seven of their eight qualifying games, and have one of the best goal difference figures in the entire qualifying competition. So far, they've scored 18 goals in qualifying play, and only allowed three.

Spain World Cup Away Jersey 2014There are football teams in the Euro 2016 qualifiers that have better records than Spain. England are the top dogs at this point, having won all eight of their football matches-and having scored 26 goals while only conceding three. Austria, meanwhile, has won seven games and drawn the other. With point totals and goal differences considered, though, the Spanish side would be the number-three team in the qualifying competition right now-not bad for a football squad in decline.

Do you think the Spaniards might have what it takes to win a third consecutive European Championship in France next year? If so, support the team and celebrate their return to the top, with a brand new Spain jersey 2014 2015 from Soccer Box!