National anthem: Marcha Real
NATIONAL TEAM NAME
La Selección, La (Furia) Roja
The World Cup qualifications went extremely well for the Spanish team and were closely associated with the number 10. La Roja has delivered a perfect series with ten wins in ten games, and with 28 goals was the second-most successful team of the European qualification rounds. The defense knew how to impress: With just five allowed scores, the Spaniards were the best in this respect, too. La Roja has presented itself as a mature team, which has gotten only stronger after a strong performance at the 2008 EC in Austria and Switzerland.
BIGGEST WC SUCCESSES
4th (1950), quarter finals (1934, 1986, 1990, 1994, 2002)
WC Group 2010
A team literally peppered with exceptional talent from the best teams from all around Europe: The defense around the net, Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) with 100 of international matches, is the captain. Important defense supports are Carlos Puyol (FC Barcelona) and outfield Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid). Andrés Iniesta and Xavi (bothFC Barcelona) form a dynamic, elegant, creative and dangerous middle front, unique in all the world. If you think about the fact that stars like Cesc Fàbregas (FC Arsenal London) and Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid) don’t even have a guaranteed place in their national team’s midfield, you can get an idea what kind of a potential is in this team. The extra class is confirmed in offense: David Villa (FC Valencia) and Fernando Torres (FC Liverpool) are two ice-cold executors, who use nearly every ball that comes their way.
The names of the players on the field are impressive in their own right. Even more impressive are the names of the players sitting on the bench and not playing. To get through a match as long as a WC, it is important to be able to have quality replacements when the main players are tired or injured. The Spaniards’ superiority is confirmed here as well: between 2007 and 2009, the Spanish national team was undefeated in 35 matches and has won no less than 15 matches in a row between 2008 and 2009. The Spanish coach Del Bosque has a quality selection in every area. The high competitiveness among the players is an additional strength of the reigning European Champions.
Everyone knows that “Furia Roja” is a team that can only beat itself in the WC finals in Suth Africa. As European Champions, Spain is obligated to reach at least the semifinals. In spite of having the strongest team, the WC title is not guaranteed. The presumptuousness with which Spain lost the FIFA Confederation Cup against the USA with 0:2 clearly showed that powerful Spain has to meet every opponent with the deserved respect and required attitude.
If not this year, then when? The reigning Europa Champion is one the top favorites with realistic ambitions for the WC title. It would be its first World Cup. The best result up to now was fourth place in 1950 in Brazil, where the team finished last in the finals after Uruguay, the host and Sweden. Before the 2008 European Cup, it was suggested that La Selección’s nearly chronic failure at the international level has to do with the infighting between autonomous Spanish regions: Basques, Andalusians, Catalans and others simply don’t want to stand on the podium together as a team, and remain a collection of separate groups. It is up to Spain itself to repeat the impressive achievement of its team at the EC in Austria and Switzerland and to put such allegations to rest.
THE MOST IMPORTANT WC GAME TO DATE
The Spaniards’ pretty slim WC record doesn’t make it easy to look for big WM football matches in the past. There certainly were notable achievements by Spain’s 11, especially in the preliminaries of the 1950 WC in Brazil. This was stoked by the rivalry between the neighbors to the north, France, with whom there were some qualification matches, but a single, decisive match has not (yet!) taken place.
LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL
The Spanish national team will enter the preliminary round at the South African WC in Group H against the Switzerland, Chile and Honduras. Anything other than first place would be a sensation. The second round will be against Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast, tough guys from Group G. These opponents are in the way of the world champion’s title. With this squad, coach and shape, there is no bigger favorite to win the cup.