The reigning European champions are one of the favourites to go all the way
After recently achieving a world-record run of 35 matches without a loss, it’s little wonder Spain are hot favourites for this year’s FIFA World Cup. By winning the 2008 European Championships, they put behind them a string of disappointing international tournaments where they so often failed to realise their burgeoning potential. Spain won all 10 of their qualifying games, scoring 28 goals in the process.
Vicente del Bosque The established maestro made a name for himself at Real Madrid, winning two UEFA Champions Leagues, a Spanish Super Cup, a European Super Cup and the Toyota Intercontinental Cup. Picking up where Luis Aragines left off after 2008’s Euro Cup victory, Vicente del Bosque has preserved the team’s fluid style.
Player to watch
Xavi Hernandez It’s difficult to choose one standout player from the Spain squad. However, at a push, we’d pick Xavi – the midfield maestro with quick feet and even quicker thinking. He’s the beating heart of the team – his quick passing and deft touch ensures that Spain’s target men, Fernando Torres and David Villa, always have plenty to work with.
We’re on the ball
World Cup appearances: 12 Previous best: Fourth, 1950 Odds of winning: 4/1 Strange but true: Despite currently holding second place in the FIFA World Rankings (Brazil are first), Spain has only ever once made it past the Quarter-finals in the FIFA World Cup, and that was 60 years ago – and they came fourth. Fixtures: Switzerland, June 16, 6pm, Durban Honduras, June 21, 10.30pm, Johannesburg Chile, June 25, 10.30pm, Pretoria