Spain: World Cup 2014 Team Preview
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Napoli), David De Gea (Manchester United).
Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona).
Midfielders: Xavi (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich).
Forwards: David Silva (Manchester City), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Pedro (Barcelona), Juan Mata (Manchester United), David Villa (Atletico Madrid).
Best Ever Finish: Winners (2010)
Captain: Iker Casillas
Manager: Vincent Del Bosque
The World and European champions will be in amongst the favourites to win retain their crown in Brazil. They topped the sole five-team group in the UEFA section; a 1-0 win against France in Paris being the key result on their way to qualification.
In defence of their title, legendary boss Vincent Del Bosque will, as you’d expect, have a host of talented players to choose from. Much of the ‘old guard’ will make up the core of the team’s starting XI, but players on the fringes are starting to make a major case for a starting berth. Cesar Azpilicueta, Javi Martinez and Isco in particular, are all pushing for a spot in the La Roja line-up. Del Bosque will also have Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa at his disposal after the Brazilian-born forward made the decision to play for the World Champions over the 2014 hosts.
Whilst Spain have dominated all before them over the last half a decade, the indications suggest that retaining their most coveted title here will be this team’s most testing challenge to date. The 3-0 defeat to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final only emphasized the difficulty of the task facing them and has left many doubting whether they can maintain their stratospheric levels of performance in Brazil this summer.
But you would be a fool to write them off. Perhaps after such a long spell of overwhelming dominance, the spanking handed out by Brazil was a necessary one for Del Bosque and his side? They will refocus and refine ahead of the summer, with any sense of complacency surely obliterated after such a humbling experience. For the rest of the sides taking part, that is a sobering prospect.
They remain the team to beat on the international stage and a fourth major trophy in a row is certainly achievable. If they can become two-time World Cup winners here, this Spanish crop will be well befitting of the title of the greatest international side in history.
Key Player - Andres Iniesta
A player who’s influence at club level is often undervalued due to the brilliance of Lionel Messi. But Iniesta is without doubt Spain’s man for the big occasion. The Barcelona midfielder scored the winner and was awarded man-of-the-match in the 2010 World Cup Final.
He was also named man-of-the-match in the 4-0 win over Italy in the final EURO 2012 and in addition, picked up UEFA’s player of the tournament award. Not a bad list of international honours!
He remains a major influence for Del Bosque’s team and is a player who provides a creative, incisive streak to Spain’s possession based philosophy. He can play in a host of positions and yet his impression on the game never dwindles.