A Brief History
Spain will enter the 2014 FIFA World Cup with the title of the reigning World and European champions. This will be Spain's 14th appearance in the World Cup and it will be the first time they enter the competition as the defending champions. Expectations will be high as the fans will be expecting a repeat performance of the 2010 edition of the competition to see them prolong their recent domination of world football. Spain have historically not enjoyed much success in the competition which started off in 1930 but in recent times they have evolved into a force to be reckoned with. They are the only national team to have won 3 consecutive major tournaments (Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, Euro 2012) and also share the record (with Brazil) of being unbeaten in 35 competitive matches. Having suffered disappointment in the recent 2013 Confederations Cup where they lost in the final to Brazil, Spain will be hoping to win the competition in their rivals' own back yard as the perfect consolation gift.
2014 World Cup Qualification
As a member of the UEFA confederation, Spain were drawn in Group I which consisted of a total of only 5 teams (rest of the UEFA groups consisted of 6 teams each). Spain entered the qualification phase as favourites to win the group and attain automatic qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. They were assigned to a relatively easy group which comprised of France, Finland, Georgia and Belarus with France the only notable team capable of damaging their hopes of qualification. However that was not the case as Spain comfortably qualified for the World Cup after winning their group ahead of France which saw them register 6 wins and 2 draws in an unbeaten qualification campaign which also saw them concede the least goals (3 goals) among all the other European teams.
Group I (UEFA)
Provisional 23-Man Squad
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), 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).
The first surprise inclusion is of Chelsea striker Fernando Torres. Torres has not been able to re-capture his best form since his move from Liverpool to Chelsea back in 2011 but has somehow managed to perform for the national team. He is a player who seems to hit form at the big stage with his performance in the 2013 Confederations Cup in which he scored 5 goals serving as proof. Vicente del Bosque will be hoping that 'El Nino' will repay the trust he has put in the out of sorts striker by delivering when called upon.
Another surprise inclusion is of Atletico Madrid playmaker Koke. The 22-year old has been in impressive form and has been instrumental in his club winning the 2013/14 La Liga and reaching the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League final. The youngster has been selected by coach Vicente del Bosque as his wildcard as he hopes to inject young blood into Spain's midfield, a role which would have otherwise been handed to Thiago Alcantara if he would have been fit. Having scored 6 goals and 13 assists from midfield for his club, Del Bosque will be hoping the attacking midfielder is able to reproduce that form for his country as well and will also hope his partnership with fellow team-mate Deigo Costa will pay dividence.
Lastly, the inclusion of Atletico Madrid's front man Diego Costa is very risky in view of his current fitness. The lengthy campaign which saw the player spearhead Atletico's campaign and lead them to win the La Liga and reach the Champions League final seems to have taken its toll on the player. Costa hobbled off in the the champions league final against Real Madrid as well as the title decider against Barcelona with a recurring hamstring injury. The Brazilian-born striker striker who struck 27 goals in La Liga this season now remains a serious doubt for Spain as the backroom staff will try everything to patch him up. If the striker manages to recover in time for Spain's World Cup opener, his presence upfront will no doubt lift the team as they try to defend their title successfully.
The Spanish national team is one which is overflowing with talent like some of their rivals which ultimately means that many big names had to be left out of the squad. A prominent member of the Spain defense who is absent this time around is Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa. The 31-year old right-back who has 56 caps to his name was part of a Spain squad who have recently dominated world football but his exclusion all but ends his international career as the player himself exclaimed. Arbeloa's inclusion was always in doubt with the presence of a strong competition for the position in question with players such as Cesar Azpilicueta and Juanfran well then capable of filling in for the ageing Arbeloa. Everything said, the player can still be proud of what he has achieved with this team over the past couple of years and walk away with his head held high.
Isco, another young superstar in the making will also not be going to Brazil this summer. The 22-year old enjoyed a great first season at Real Madrid which saw him score 11 goals and assisting 8 times. But most of his appearances came after coming on from the bench as his fine start to the season was not enough for him to secure a place in the starting XI. His bit-part role was mainly due to the 4-3-3 formation deployed by Carlo Ancelotti but it ultimately resulted in him being overlooked for the Spain squad.
Alvaro Negredo was another player who was also considered to be a surplus to requirements. The ex-Sevilla man had a good first season playing in the Premier League with Manchester City scoring a goal in every 2 games for them. His performances for the Spanish national team have also been good scoring 10 goals in 21 matches. Being a proven goalscorer, Negredo's exclusion comes as a big surprise especially when you consider that he was dropped in favour of Torres. The only explanation of his exclusion could be of his struggles at the back-end of the season which saw him score no goals in 17 appearances.
Lastly, Fernando Llorente was yet another striker who was not chosen to travel with the squad to Brazil this summer. The striker enjoyed a fine start to his life in Italy after scoring 16 goals in his debut season but his inability to replicate that form for his country meant that he would play no part in this edition of the FIFA World Cup.
Every team relies on some players to deliver the goods by influencing the team in one way or another. Xavi is one such player who has grew into this role. The Barcelona man has been ever-present in the heart of the Spanish midfield having appeared in every major competition since making his debut back in 2000. He is the central-piece of all of Spain's attacks who dictates the play in front of him. He also has a superb technical ability to hold on to the ball in tight situations while also being calm in possession and not making any lazy passes. At the wrong end of his career, Xavi still has the ability to run the game and while this may well be his last World Cup, he will be looking to make it memorable.
Spain will also be hoping that Xavi's club team-mate Andres Iniesta also performs at his peak during the tournament. The Spanish play-maker has also been an integral part of Spain's success during the past couple of years, most famously scoring the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands. Iniesta is a very versatile player who can operate anywhere in midfield which makes him very dangerous whenever he is on the ball. Having fantastic ball control and an eye for passing, Iniesta is a player who gives it his all every time he steps onto the pitch and will be looking to do so yet again.
Lastly, Diego Costa will be looking to prove his worth after opting to represent Spain over his home country Brazil. The striker played his best ever season this year which saw him score 36 goals in 55 appearances for Atletico Madrid to lead them to winning La Liga. Costa's inclusion however is a big risk as he has only made 1 appearance for La Roja and his lack of understanding with his new team-mates might prove as a stumbling block in Spain's quest to retain the title.
Yet again, Spain have announced a very strong squad which is more than capable of winning the World Cup. They have undoubtedly the best midfield one team can have and it has been the reason why they have achieved such huge success in these past couple of years. This Spanish team also consists of a number of match winners who can step onto the plate whenever needed. The team also has the perfect mixture of youth and experience coupled with a winning mentality to go on and win the whole competition.
Spain's main weakness is their defense. The retirement of captain Carles Puyol had left a void in the centre of defense which has troubled coach Vicente del Bosque on a number of occasions. With Gerard Pique also under-performing at club level and the lack of a quality centre-back to serve as a back-up, Spain's central defensive pairing is not as strong as it was a few years back. Spain also have very limited striking options as well. Diego Costa looks likely to lead the attack but his recent injury woes may not see him last the entire 90 minutes of a match. David Villa who has been Spain's saviour on a number of occasions is also ageing and may not have it in him to perform for them on a regular basis. Torres has also been misfiring and his form in front of goal may see him being used sparingly.
Spain were drawn in group B alongside Netherlands, Chile and Australia. Spain have not been drawn in such an easy group this time around which comprises of their 2010 World Cup final opponents Netherlands and underdogs Chile. Spain will be favourites to win the group but they will have to be wary of their opponents who possess quality forward players who can hurt them. Robin van Persie and co. will also be having that 2010 final loss in the back of their minds and will be looking to dump Spain out at the first hurdle this time around.
Spain's Fixtures for the 2014 FIFA World Cup
13th June 2014 (16:00 local time)
Spain vs Netherlands
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
18th June 2014 (16:00 local time)
Spain vs Chile
Maracanã - Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho, Rio De Janeiro
23rd June 2014 (13:00 local time)
Australia vs Spain
Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
With the quality of the squad at the disposal of coach del Bosque, it is no surprise that Spain will enter as favourites to retain their crown. The Spanish players have a winning mentality and are ones who persevere even when the odds are stacked against them with the 2010 World Cup final serving as proof. Spain also head into the tournament as the defending champions and have nothing to lose. They may not have the surprise factor anymore but their name still has the ability to strike fear into any opponent they face. If Spain win the 2014 World Cup, it will be their 2nd successive triumph in the competition and one which will see them become the 3rd country in the history of the competition to win back-to-back World Cup titles. This great footballing nation has its destiny in its own hands with a win seeing them enter into footballing folklore.
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Muzzammil Maniar (author) from Karachi, Pakistan on August 19, 2014:
Thank you for your feedback. Unfortunately, i just update it when i have got lots of free time which i am finding hard to come by nowadays but be sure to visit as i might just manage to pitch in an article or 2 in the coming weeks.
Johnb811 on August 19, 2014:
I've been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you, I'll try to check back more frequently. How frequently you update your site? akcbfdedceee
Muzzammil Maniar (author) from Karachi, Pakistan on June 11, 2014:
@erorantes and lotaxh
Supporting Spain eh! Good luck to them :-)
Hanna on June 11, 2014:
Looking forward to the opening match. Come on, guys!
Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on June 09, 2014:
It is great to see the Spain team getting ready for the World Cup. Best wishes to them.