Coming in as the number one team in the FIFA rankings, Spain once again has high hopes for the World Cup. The defending champions faced little resistance in their qualifying group, amassing 6 wins, 2 draws, and 0 losses. Their defense was top-notch at this stage, while the offense wasn’t quite up to par from what fans have come to expect. The squad has plenty of experience, but after a disappointing showing at the Confederations Cup, many wonder if some of their main players are on their way out. Their main competition in this group will be Netherlands, who are loaded with talent up and down their roster. Look for that first game on June 13th to be a big decider on who is the higher seed moving past group play. Manager Vincent Del Bosque will have plenty of talent at his disposal to utilize in a quest for another World Cup championship.
Players to Watch For
One of the most reliable keepers, Casillas will be called upon to play a crucial role in Spain’s title hopes. In the group qualification pool, Spain only conceded 3 goals and with Casillas in goal, they will look to continue this stingy defense into Brazil. The Real Madrid goalie will also serve as the captain for the Spanish side. He hasn’t seen a lot of the pitch in this current La Liga this season, as fellow country-man Diego Lopez has manned the goal in 36 of 37 games.
Iniesta is a flat-out big game player. This has been seen with his man-of-the-match honors in both the 2010 World Cup Final and the 2012 EURO final. He is expected to start for Spain once again in this year’s World Cup and will surely be an impactful player. The Barcelona midfielder has been in relatively solid form this season, producing 3 goals and 7 assists in 34 games. Unfortunately, it is not always real easy to grab attention when you play alongside Lionel Messi. Despite not necessarily being a physical force, Iniesta uses its intelligence and passing ability to break down defenses.
The Atletico Madrid forward has been in top-class form this season, which is shown by his 27 La Liga goals in just 34 games. Despite being born in Brazil, Costa has chosen to suit up for the Spaniard side opposed to the 2014 hosts, Brazil. Although Spain already has plenty of attacking players up front, I’m sure Spanish boss, Del Bosque, will find a way to utilize Costa’s unique attacking ability.
Group Stage Games
June 13 vs. Netherlands
June 18 vs. Chile
June 23 vs. Australia
In 2014, Spain will be one of the heavy title threats to bring home another World Cup Championship. I think they will have no problem steamrolling through their early games, although the game against Holland will be one to tune it. Ultimately, in my World Cup bracket, I have the Spaniards getting to the final, only to fall to Germany. If it does end up Spain-Germany in the finals, it will be a great game no matter who comes out on top.
Feel free to check out some of my other team previews: