Spain come to Brazil having won the last three major trophies open to European teams and despite having to play in South American conditions, Vicente del Bosque’s team are among the favourites to lift the 2014 World Cup.
The Spanish won the previous tournament in South Africa and to add to that prize, the country took the trophy at the 2008 and 2012 European Championships. Brazil and Argentina head the outright winner betting while Spain are just behind third favourites Germany and can be backed at a 7/1 price with William Hill.
The change to South America can affect any team but can this remarkable squad make it four major wins in a row?
Spain World Cup group
Del Bosque’s men have been placed in a fairly tough group and their opening fixture is a repeat of the 2010 final. The Netherlands wait for Spain in a tricky opener before the reigning champions tackle Chile and Australia.
The Dutch game is the crucial one but a point from that fixture should be enough to see the Spanish progress, even if they come through to the knockouts in second place. Chile can be dangerous while Australia progressed beyond the groups back in 2006 but Spain should really be too strong to suffer an upset.
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Spain World Cup roster
Spanish preparations may have been hit by the loss of Victor Valdes to injury but the Barcelona stopper is very much a second choice behind Iker Casillas who comes into the World Cup with an incredible 153 caps.
Casillas will sit behind an experienced defence that includes Gerard Pique, Alvaro Arbeloa and Sergio Ramos and together they should be among the meanest back fours at this summer’s World Cup.
Spain’s midfield is another area that features huge experience and Del Bosque is able to include several players who have been involved in the country’s three major successes. Xavi and Xabi Alonso each have over 100 caps while Andres Iniesta should bring up a century if Spain progress to the semi finals.
This represents a perfect balance between attacking flair and hardworking, hard tackling midfielders and is arguably the best middle line in the whole tournament.
David Villa is the country’s most prolific scorer with an impressive record of 56 goals in 94 games. The Atletico Madrid man is 32 now but he is still lethal in front of goal and will be doubtless be first choice for Del Bosque in Brazil.
After Villa however, the manager has a difficult decision to make when it comes to a support striker. Fernando Torres is the most experienced with over 100 caps but his lack of form at club level threatens to affect his international career.
Roberto Soldado and Fernando Llorente give further options but neither are guaranteed a place in the squad. Instead, Del Bosque may trust Manchester City’s Alvaro Negredo who has scored 10 times in his first 20 appearances for the full national side.
Remember however that Spain were the first to introduce a ‘false number nine’ system whereby they played for much of Euro 2012 without a recognised striker. That formation could be copied for this summer’s World Cup although David Villa is more likely to feature as a lone centre forward.
Spain wins World Cup
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Those issues with the strikers, together with the fact that the tournament is being held in South America suggest that Spain should be avoided for the outright win. As an alternative, you can back Del Bosque’s men to make the final at 16/5 with Paddy Power but our tip is to stake on the reigning Champions to claim a semi final berth at odds of 13/8.