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World Cup 2014 Guide: Spain

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The Spanish National team will look to continue making history in Brazil this year, by retaining the trophy they won in South Africa 4 years ago. There has been criticisms of the side recently with many of their key players that have led them to success in the previous World Cup as well as 2 European Championships, no longer performing at the top of their abilities or simply becoming ‘too old’ to perform at the highest level. Much of this criticism of the National side followed on from the 3-0 defeat to hosts Brazil in the final of last year’s Confederations Cup, although Spain lifted the 2010 World Cup after a shock 2-0 defeat to the USA in the 2009 Confederations Cup semi final. Despite these criticisms, Spain are still one of the bookies favourites to lift the trophy in July. The squad is expected to be a mixture of the latest stars off the Spanish production line and the old guard that finally delivered success the Spanish public so badly craved. Could this be a final chance for some football legends such as Iker Casillas or Xavi to bow out of the international stage on a high?

Key Players

Iker Casillas – The Real Madrid goalkeeper is the captain of the national side and will hope to have a strong World Cup following on from two disappointing seasons at club level for Real Madrid, in which he has been replaced as first choice goalkeeper by fellow Spaniard Diego Lopez. Casillas is still the first choice for Real Madrid in the cups, including the Champions League. Casillas will be hoping a lack of game time doesn’t affect him ahead of the tournament. With rumours that he may be ready to leave Real Madrid in pursuit of first team football, a strong tournament could see interest rise in the 33-year-old keeper.

Sergio Ramos – Another Real Madrid player, which is typical of the Spanish national side as it is normally a mixture of the best talent Real Madrid and Barcelona have to offer. Ramos will be keen to ensure that he and fellow centre back Pique keep things tight at the back for Spain. Ramos has enjoyed an impressive season for Real Madrid, scoring two goals in an excellent 5-0 aggregate win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi final. With the freedom coach Vicente Del Bosque allows the full backs to go forward, Ramos will need to be at his best to ensure Spain remain defensively solid.

Andres Iniesta – Barcelona Midfielder Iniesta is arguably the most important player in the side. His excellent creativity and vision allow Spain to use the ‘tiki-taka’ style of football very effectively. Often playing the final pass that penetrates the oppositions defence Iniesta will need to be on top form is Spain are to retain the trophy in Brazil this year. His partnership with fellow Barcelona midfielder Xavi has been a vital part of both Barcelona and Spain’s dominant performances in recent times, but with Barcelona having a fairly poor season by their high standards, the little maestro will look to make amends at the World Cup. His big game experience could prove vital in the difficult playing conditions in Brazil and he will hope he can add to his solitary World Cup goal, albeit that one goal came as the winner in the 2010 final. Iniesta turned 30 this year, so this could be his final opportunity to star in a World Cup at the top of his game.

Diego Costa – The controversial striker has decided to play for the Spain through the residence ruling rather than his homeland Brazil despite playing in two friendly games for the country of his birth. His decision to play for Spain has been welcomed with open arms, as they are crying out for a genuine number 9. During their successful 2012 European Championship campaign Spain were often criticised for using a ‘strikerless’ formation using an extra midfielder, usually Cesc Fabregas, in an attacking position as a ‘false 9’ due to a lack of a striker, despite Fernando Torres winning the Golden Boot at this tournament the Chelsea striker only started two of the six games and his poor form since his move to Chelsea has seen Torres fall down the pecking order for Spain. Is it written in the stars that Diego Costa will play a starring role for Spain in Brazil?

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