Spain have a strong Samokov look about them

Spain's senior men's team that took the 2013 SPAR European Cross Country Championships gold medals
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Spain's senior men's team that took the 2013 SPAR European Cross Country Championships gold medals

The Spanish squad of 28 which has been named for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samokov on 14 December has the defending men’s senior champion leading the way.

Last year in Belgrade, Alemayehu Bezabeh produced a dominant performance as he led for long stages of the 9.88km race to win in 29:11 from Polat Kemboi Arikan, of Turkey, who was second in 29:32 and Great Britain’s Andy Vernon, who came through on the line to take third in 29:35, the same time as Belgium’s Jeroen D’Hoedt.

Once again Bezabeh could be tough to beat as he is joined in the Spanish men’s senior squad by Antonio Abadia, Roberto Alaiz, Ivan Fernandez, Mohamed Marhoum and Daniel Mateo as they also look to retain their team title from 2013.

Their women’s senior team, which won bronze in Belgrade, looks strong too with Diana Martin, who was third in the 3000m steeplechase at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in August, ready to make an impression again.

Italy has a squad of 25 athletes, with Ahmed El Mazoury, Stefano La Rosa, Patrick Nasti and Marouan Razine in the men’s senior squad and the senior women’s team being Federica Dal Ri, Fatna Maraoui, Jessica Pulido, Valeria Roffino and Elena Romagnolo.

Russia has named 15 athletes with full teams at both junior levels where they could be in with a medal chance.