Spain travel to Brazil this summer with high hopes of defending the World Cup title that they currently hold. The team is expected to perform to the levels that have made them feared by most opposition that they have faced, but are not favourites to win the tournament this year.
With one of the strongest squads the world has ever seen, the system of football being played by manager Vicente Del Bosque will once again be analysed closely by various countries in order to help them gain an upper hand upon the dominance that this Spain side will try and show in games in Rio this year.
With much debate of who will play represent Spain in the tournament this year, it seems that Del Bosque is keen to stick with most of the players that flourished for him in 2012 World Cup.
Qualification and Group
It was highly unlikely that Spain would not qualify for this year’s World Cup after being pitted up against the likes of Finland, Georgia and Belarus. France were to only noticable competition for the Spanish side, but proved to be no match as Spain went on to win the group by 3 points and were undefeated throughout.
It will be a repeat of the 2010 World Cup as Spain have been drawn to fight against Holland once more in the group stages, but will be expected to advance. Chile and Australia will look to cause Spain as much problems as they can, and Spain know that top performances are needed for every match in the World Cup.
Winning this group or finishing second is the difference between Croatia/Mexico/Cameroon in the first knockout round and Brazil.
Spain have only won the World Cup once back in 2010 in South Africa, where they beat a defiant Netherlands side 1-0. Andres Iniesta scored a vital goal in the closing stages that would seal victory for Spain.
Spain have also reached the semi-finals of this tournament in 1950, and have reached the quarter-finals four times (1934, 1986, 1994 and 2002).
The squad will go into this tournament ranked number one in the Fifa rankings and are hoping to add another final to their accolades.
Spain’s provisional 30-man squad has some notable figures this year, with the likes of Diego Costa and Alberto Moreno both picked for the first time.
Diego Costa was born and raised in Brazil and made two friendly appearances for the national side this year before opting to switch registrations to Spain after being granted citizenship in September. The striker has been in red-hot form for Atletico Madrid this year, scoring 36 goals in 50 appearances this season, with a move to Chelsea being agreed in the summer. The player is expected to lead the line in Brazil this year.
Alberto Moreno is an unrecognised name in the squad, but has proven his trade at Sevilla in La Liga. The 21-year-old defender is highly rated by many in Spain and is destined for great things in the future. He has caught the eye from the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool after some top quality performances.
Once again, the midfield is seen as the dominant area for Spain. Barcelona midfielder’s Xavi and Iniesta are expected to provide a spark with their tiki-taka style of play, with Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and Manchester United’s Juan Mata also included.
Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos will again provide the backbone for the team with Jordi Alba and Chelsea’s Cesar Azplicueta alongside the pair in defence.
Fernando Torres has been selected along with Manchester City’s Alvaro Negredo.
Noticable absentees include Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago, Soldado, Victor Valdes and Isco.
Thiago was included in the 30-man squad, but on Thursday, Bayern confirmed that the player had suffered a knee injury that will see him miss the whole of the World Cup.”It’s very bitter for Thiago and we’re really sorry for the lad,” said Bayern’s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on his club’s website.
Not only Thiago, but Valdes has also suffered a major knee injury that will see Manchester United’s David De Gea gain a place in the squad.
This year’s Spain squad will include eleven members of Spanish Giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Here is the squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Napoli), David De Gea (Manchester United).
Defenders: Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos (both Real Madrid), Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba (both Barcelona), Cesar Azplicueta (Chelsea), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla).
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas (all Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Ander Iturraspe (Athletic Bilbao), David Silva (Manchester City), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Jesus Navas (Manchester City)
Forwards: Diego Costa, David Villa (both Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Fernando Llorente (Juventus), Fernando Torres (Chelsea).
By Ollie Brown