The team: There isn’t much more left to be said about Spain, the team that has steamrollered all opposition in world football to win the last three major tournaments – two European Championships and one FIFA World Cup. But are the wheels starting to come off? They struggled for goals during qualification, only hitting the back of the net 14 times, and have been slightly underwhelming during recent friendlies. But to write off Spain’s chances of winning back-to-back FIFA World Cups is foolish when you consider their embarrassment of riches in almost every department. They should still be the team to beat, albeit by a smaller margin than in recent years.
The coach: Vicente del Bosque
The experienced former Real Madrid coach took over from Luis Aragones after the 2008 European Championship success and led Spain to glory at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2012 European Championships. He knows his team inside out and will undoubtedly get the best out of them on the biggest stage.
Key player: Diego Costa
His decision to represent Spain, despite having played for Brazil, twice, didn’t go down too well in his former homeland, but Diego Costa has been a revelation this season for Atletico Madrid. Although he’s only made a handful of appearances for Spain, he seems to possess all the tools to be an out-and-out goal scorer. And with Spain struggling for goals as of late, his emergence is a major boost.
World ranking: 1
World Cup appearances: 13
Previous best: Winners in 2010
Qualification: Winner of group
Form (qualifiers): WWDDWWWW
Fixtures: June 13 vs. Netherlands; June 18 vs. Chile; June 23 vs. Australia