Spain are the defending champions at the World Cup in Brazil and have also won the latest two European Championships. No side has won three major international tournaments in succession before and now Spain are looking for a fourth, However, Brazil 2014 could be one competition too far for the golden generation. Smart punters may avoid backing Spain this time.
Andres Iniesta scored the winning goal in the World Cup final for Spain against Holland four years ago. At aged 30 he is not a veteran and still a key member of the Barcelona midfield so Spain’s chances may have been underestimated by the best bookies in Asia. Xavi is slightly older and may have less influence in the middle of the field.
Carlos Puyol has been a stalwart of the Barcelona and Spain defence for more than ten years. He was a true warrior for club and country but he has now retired from the game. Iker Casiallas is a veteran now but the Real Madrid goalkeeper is still first choice for his country and even aged 33 his powers have not diminished.
In the last World Cup Spain played four matches in the elimination rounds and won each 1-0. Even in tight matches they had the confidence that by dominating possession they would create one clear opening. David Villa was the main source of goals then and Fernando Torres has been scoring goals for Spain since 2003. Diego Costa now has the responsibility to score his country’s goals. You can get the best odds with sportsbooks like Sbobet for Costa to be the leading scorer for Spain.
Torres seems to have been in a permanent sulk while paying for Chelsea since the last World Cup. Villa has scored 56 goals in 91 matches for Spain and was a key member of the Atletico Madrid side which won the league in Spain and almost the Champions League. However, he scored just 13 goals in 36 matches for Atletico last season and has not scored for Spain for more than a year.
Xabi Alonso is 32 now but still a massive influence for the team in midfield. Few players have his range of passing and tactical awareness. Sergio Ramos has 114 caps at the age of 27 and has an effective central defensive partnership with Gerard Pique. Cesc Fabregas has a record of scoring key penalties for Spain and his impact on the country’s football history has been huge.
Overall Spain have a solid defence and the confidence gained from showing an aptitude for tournament football. However, if they don’t win their group they will face Brazil in the next round. Casillas may suffer from a lack of games and Xavi’s fitness is a concern. However, the squad is full of players who have been there, done that and the decline of Torres and Villa can be offset by the arrival of Costa.
Chile could win Spain’s group which means the key match in the context of qualifying for the second round is the fixture with Holland, a repeat of the last World Cup final. Holland have been vulnerable at the back for some time and Spain should beat them but only to then face a tough match in the second round.