WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Spain

WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Spain

COACH – Vicente Del Bosque
BEST SHOWING – Winners 2010
QUALIFICATION – Winner of UEFA Qualifying Group I
TOURNAMENT ODDS – 7/1
FIXTURES
June 13th – Netherlands (2000 BST, Salvador, BBC)
June 18th – Chile (2000 BST, Rio de Janeiro, BBC)
June 23rd – Australia (1700 BST, Curitiba, ITV)

Button Holland Button Chile Button Australia

Spain have dominated world football for the last few years – the old perception of them buckling under pressure was washed away when they defeated the Germans in Euro 2008 and put absolutely to bed with their triumph in South Africa 2010, followed by a demolition job on the Italians in the final of Euro 2012.

Qualifying was achieved with ease, albeit with two minor hiccups in the shape of home draws with Finland and France, and there was a surprise defeat to South Africa in a friendly last November. But when it comes to tournaments, Spain know how to shine.

We all know the Spanish plan – pressure and dominating possession. But they’re not lightweight either. They have players who can compete with the rest physically, Alvaro Negredo and Atletico’s Diego Costa come to mind.

I don’t really know how Del Bosque will line up but he can play different systems that suit his team down to the ground, the 4-6-0 with attacking midfielders playing the front role, 4-2-3-1, a flatter 4-5-1.

Spain’s main problem is one that most coaches would love to have – who to play out of three quality goalkeepers?

Iker Casillas has been a bystander for most of the year at Real Madrid but Pepe Reina and David de Gea are more than viable alternatives.

Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos should play together at centre back but Pique has had a below par season for Barcelona and Ramos hasn’t convinced at times either.

Jordi Alba should play left back with Raul Albiol on the opposite flank.

Midfield is an embarrassment of riches – Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta, Fabregas, David Silva,Santi Cazorla, Javi Martinez, Juan Mata and Jesus Navas just to name a few are amongst the names competing just to get in Del Bosque’s 23.

If Del Bosque opts to play the lone forward Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa is an excellent option but Manchester City’s Alvaro Negredo has also had a good season in England.

Fernando Torres and David Villa’s marked decline in the past couple of years means they are no longer certainties for selection. Fernando Llorente is the other man named in the provisional 30-man squad.

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ONE TO WATCH

05 WORLD CUP COSTADiego Costa will be the target of the boo boys in Brazil, having turned his back on representing his native land in favour of wearing the Spanish Red.

He’s actually played in the famous Brazilian yellow, appearing in two friendlies on neutral ground. The Spanish FA later requested FIFA permission to call him up after Costa became a Spanish citizen and he made his debut in March against Italy.

He’s coming off the finest season of his career, however, as his power and aggression have tormented La Liga defences all year long. He’s a nasty git who defenders will hate playing against and he’s more than capable of getting on the end of passes and using his skill or winning aerial battles.

HERE COMES D-JUDGE
D-Judge

Make no bones about it, this era of Spanish football has seen them become one of the greatest international teams of all time. They come to Brazil with absolutely nothing to prove but they will have the desire and hunger to cement their legacy and become the first side since the 1962 Brazilians to retain their status as Champions of the World.

Some are saying tiki-taka has been found out but I find that a buzzword. Sure, qualification wasn’t free scoring, but when it comes to tournament time they know the mentality and what it takes to win it all.

This Spanish side have more than tiki-taka. They’ll possess, they’ll pressure and they’ll find a way to break you down. Over the years I’ve seen them adapt to teams who’ve tried to maim them and teams who have tried to beat them at their own game.

Defence is a little bit of a question mark but their strengths far outweigh their weaknesses.

As a little side note, if the group stages don’t quite work out as planned – Spain and Brazil could meet in the last 16…..that’d be a tie to salivate over and a point for Spain to prove after their Confederations Cup defeat last year.

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VERDICT

If they can adapt to the South American conditions, Spain will be the team to beat.

world cup Brasil emblem 01

Dani (D-Good)
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83


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