Perennial under-achievers till they won the Euro 2008, Spain has always had talent at its disposal but no trophies to show the world for that. With arguably the best league in the footballing world and couple of the best teams in the league, World Cup always comes with a lot of expectation. They were ranked no 1 in the FIFA rankings till a week back and are the second favourites with the bookies to lift the trophy on July 11.
Road to WC2010
Spain topped their qualifying group with a 100% record. Bosnia, Armenia and Estonia are not exactly the opponents who could have stopped them from qualifyinng, but Turkey and Belgium were. Coming at the back of their triumph at the Euros, the team didn’t have too much trouble beating the teams in the group twice over. They scored the second most goals in qualifying with 27 goals, conceding 5 in 10 matches. David Villa top scored with 7 goals and strangely enough Torres didn’t score a single goal through qualifying. Was it because of his injury I am not very sure but you cannot stop such a talented player from not scoring in the WC I am sure.
Strategy & Line-up
Despite going into the World Cup with three world class players who are still recovering from injury in Iniesta, Fabregas and Torres, Spain still will be strong favourites to win the cup. The quality of players are such that they can regain their touch in the first match they play coming back from injury. They have retained 15 of the squad who won the Euro 2008. Prominent among the players missing in action are Marcos Senna, the holding midfielder who was among the goals in the WC qualifiers. Then there is Ruben de la red, Guiza etc etc. Nevertheless, this Spanish team has enough ammunition to make the mark.
Before we talk of any other part of the field, we need to talk about the mid-field. Arguably the most creative midfield in this World Cup, the team boasts of Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Alonso, David Silva where Fabregas will most probably not get to play that regularly as Xabi Alonso will don the role of the holding midfielder manning the middle of the park allowing Xavi to push through the centre, Iniesta through the left and Silva through the right. And whenever they get the ball forward they probably have two of the most dangerous forwards in the world in Villa and Torres, who work very well in combo.
In defence the team will probably play with Pique and Puyol in the centre and Capdevila on the left and Sergio Ramos on the right. Capdevila is very effective going forward on the left and will always be an attacking threat. In goalkeeping this team again boasts three of the best shot stoppers in the never-replaceable Iker Casillas, Liverpool’s Pepe Reina and very capable Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes. I can bet that any club/country in the world will be willing to trade on these goalkeepers at any given poimnt of time.
Spain is in a relatively easy group with Honduras, Switzerland and Chile. Of these probably Chile will be able to trouble them a bit as they also play good attacking football. I expect them to top the group and get through to the next round easily. It is after the group stage that the real WC starts for Spain as they would most probably play the second placed team from the Group of Death – Brazil/Portugal/Ivory Coast/ North Korea.
Spain is one of the favourites and I think they will progress far in this tournament come what may. The team is so good that I do not think I need to mention anything about the coach. This one would do even without one 🙂