The fact that Spain have never won a World Cup remains something of an anomaly, but for such a footballing nation to have never progressed further than the quarter-final stage is truly bewildering.
Surely this time, as reigning European Champions, a team boasting world-class talent all over the pitch will break this peculiar drought. With form and confidence all on their side, it would almost be something of an upset should they not be lining up in Soccer City, Johannesburg come World Cup Final day on July 11th, where the 11/1 favourite in the Name the finalists market is a Spain/Brazil confrontation.
Spain won 10 out of 10 in qualifying, scoring 28 goals and, just as importantly, conceding only five. For all that their fluorescent-booted forwards get most of the attention, it’s easy to forget that their defence, with Barca pairing Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol at the centre, is strong enough to rival any in South Africa.
Puyol and Pique’s new teammate David Villa is also favourite to finish with the Golden Shoe, at 8/1, with doubts lingering over the fitness of his equally-deadly strike partner Fernando Torres.
Injuries seem to be the only issue that could derail Spain’s bid, with Cesc Fabregas another who may struggle to reach peak levels at the World Cup because of injury problems at Arsenal this season.
Yet with Xavi and Iniesta arguably the best midfield pairing in the world at the moment, having helped Barcelona to another La Liga title, it wouldn’t be complete madness to suggest that Spain could even win it without the unquestionable brilliance of Torres and Fabregas.
With a relatively straight forward group, it could be that boss Vicente Del Bosque saves the pair until the last 16, ready to throw in for a potential tie against Portugal.
It certainly won’t be dull – the Spanish haven’t drawn a game since 2007, and last tasted defeat in a shock 2-0 loss to the USA in the Confederations Cup that served to remind people that they were human. This summer, they look set to make everyone doubt again.
Fancy the Spanish to win it and David Villa to win the Golden Shoe? It’s 12/1 for them to do the double. See the full Top World Cup goalscorer and to win World Cup market.