Spain will arrive in Brazil with pressure on them like never before. Rivals such as the Netherlands, Germany, Argentina and Brazil appear strong; while closer to home there is an expectancy for this generation to deliver once again. Although a new cluster of players are emerging, the old heads remain crucial to Vicente del Bosque – who believes humility will be key. “We have to forget the past and not gloat over what we have won in previous years,” the coach said.

The qualifying for Brazil 2014 was solid if unspectacular, Spain seemingly content to play in an efficient manner as opposed to an emphatic one. From an attacking point of view they remain questionable, falling to find a true striker that can stand up to the midfield quality of the team. Diego Costa, captured from Brazil, could be the solution however.

Concerns exist over Carles Puyol even making the tournament, while Xavi too is struggling with the rigours of too much football. Iker Casillas meanwhile remains Del Bosque’s No 1, despite being second choice at Real Madrid CF for most of the season. There are other issues too, ranging from the choice for the right-back position to whether the defensive central pairing of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique can find their best level.
Still, despite all this, betting against the experience, quality and now winning mentality of Spain would be ill-advised. The squad will be the deepest in terms of quality and options that arrives in Brazil, while new blood such as Koke and Diego Costa could give Del Bosque’s side a much-needed injection of aggression and speed. Back them with caution, but write them off at your peril.

“Despite their problems, betting against the experience, quality and now winning mentality of Spain would be ill-advised”

COACH >>

VICENTE DEL BOSQUE

Del Bosque signed a new deal in November to take him into 2016, as he oversees the future of Spanish football. For now, however, he must guide the current crop to further glory. Intelligent, stubborn and highly experienced, his place in the pantheon of coaches is already secure.

Tactics >>

Spain are likely to go with their narrow 4-3-3 formation, aiming to assert control with their high volume of passing. Possession is their best defensive asset, but in attack it can be their enemy. They will hope to be more ruthless in front of goal and interchange roles more frequently in the final third. Speedy transitions and quick passing will be key to unhinge the best teams.

Fixtures Group B

Netherlands
Salvador 14 June 2014

Chile
Rio de Janeiro 19 June 2014

Australia
Curitiba 24 June 2014

*Dates are AEST

Tournament history
Previous tournaments: 14

2010 FIFA World Cup performance
Winners

Best performance
Winners , 2010

How they qualified
Winners, European Group I

KEY PLAYER>>

ANDRES INIESTA

Iniesta has not had his most convincing season with FC Barcelona, but for Spain he remains a constant of ingenuity. If the game is stagnant you can count on the hero of South Africa 2010 to breathe life into it. Especially for a side that sometimes struggle to translate their dominance of possession into clear goalscoring opportunities, Iniesta’s quick feet, sublime vision and incisive passing frequently prove to be the solution.