World Cup Team Profile - Spain
Coach: Vincente del Bosque
Captain: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Full Spain Roster
The Road to Rio: The defending Champs still had to go through qualifying thanks to a rule instituted for the 2006 World Cup (and largely attributed to France’s disastrous performance as defending Champs in Korea/Japan in 2002). Ironically, the Spaniards were placed together with the French in qualifying Group I.
The two would basically go head-to-head for the group. The two teams drew in Madrid in October, 2012 and each team served surprising draws: Spain against Finland at home and France on the road in Georgia. The difference would come at Stade de France in March, 2013 with Pedro’s 58th-minute marker standing as the lone tally.
Spain’s performance was exactly what the Reds have served up at the last three major internationals: timely scoring and tight defence. They went undefeated at 6-2-0 and conceded just three times. Surprisingly, all three of the goals-against came on Spanish soil.
Last World Cup appearance:
South Africa 2010 (Champions)First World Cup appearance:
Italy 1934 (Quarter-Finals)Previous World Cup appearances:
13Best World Cup finish:
Champions (South Africa 2010)
The defending champions of everything, Spain enter the 2014 World Cup with a world-beating reputation on their side and history firmly against them.
No European team has ever won a World Cup that was contested in the Americas.
However, in 2010 Spain became the first UEFA side to win a tournament outside of the continent. Hard to ignore though, after decades of being considered the contending nation that couldn’t get it done when it counted, the Spaniards have reeled off titles at Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 to completely change their reputation.Now the question they must answer is, do they still have what it takes to capture another major international or has the time finally arrived for a new nation to take the crown.
Vincent Del Bosque will have nothing but highly skilled options at his disposal as they attempt to defend their title, including Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, who not only scored the Cup winning goal in extra time at the 2010 World Cup, but was also named man-of-the-match in their 4-0 triumph over Italy at Euro 2012. His value goes well beyond just being big on the biggest of stages, he is also a versatile player that can feature almost anywhere on the pitch and contribute to a winning effort.
Spain has so many great players, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, David Silva, that when they are rolling it isn’t hard to see why they have ruled the international stage for the last six years. Though they have trended towards a tactical setup that does not feature a striker, they will have plenty of attacking skill at the ready in case they need a pure scorer to win a match late Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas will feature in the lineup as the furthest forward player but will play more of an attacking midfielder role than an outright striker, a set up that makes their passing much harder to mark.
It should also be noted that they feature a very strong back line that can also produce offence with the likes of Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba. Even after all of that, captain and first choice keeper Iker Casillas of Real Madrid is one of the best in the world and if they are forced into penalties during the knockout stage will be the key man in advancing.
Their opening match will be a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final as they meet Netherlands and hope to get their tournament going on the right foot.
Some consider Spain to be slow starters and strong finishers but they would be well advised to come strong out of the gate because a second place finish in Group B will most likely mean a Round of 16 meeting with host Brazil. Spain met Brazil in the final of the 2013 Confederation Cup which was also held in the World Cup host nation and they were well beaten 3-0.
It would be near impossible to tell if that defeat has cast doubt in Spanish minds that they can beat Brazil on their own turf, but there is no doubt that avoiding the hosts until the final would have to be a serious goal of any team that has the luxury.