World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: Spain semi-final certainties
Past tournaments: 1934, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010
Previous Best: Winners – South Africa 2010
How they got here: The defending champions booked their ticket to Brazil with relative ease after going undefeated in a group featuring France, Finland, Georgia and Belarus. Vincente del Bosque’s side finished with a record of six wins and two draws as they beat the French to top spot by three points.
Star man: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
If Spain are to win their fourth major tournament in succession they will need to have Barcelona star Andres Iniesta at the top of his game. The 30-year-old is Spain’s man for the big occasion after producing man of the match performances in both the 2010 World Cup final and the 2008 European Championship final. He was also named player of the tournament at the 2008 event and if he can reproduce that sort of level of form Spain will have an excellent chance of defending their title.
Under the radar: Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
Diego Costa has certainly not gone under the radar for his performances for Atletico Madrid this season after scoring 35 goals in his side’s bid for a La Liga and Champions League double. But at international level he is still an unproven quantity. After rejecting the chance to play for his homeland Brazil – despite playing two friendlies for the World Cup hosts – he has chosen to play for Spain after becoming a naturalised Spaniard and his physical style could prove to be the difference in his side’s bid to win back-to-back World Cups.
Team nutcase: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
The Real Madrid skipper has been in fine form in recent weeks and will be a key part of Spain’s defence of their world crown – if they can keep him on the pitch! The 28-year-old has built up somewhat of a reputation for being a hot-head in his career as 19 red cards and 116 yellow cards attest. Watch some of his craziest moments below:
How will they get on?
There has not been much hype surrounding Spain’s chances in Brazil but how can you write off a side who have won their last three major tournaments?
Despite being drawn in a tough group alongside Holland, Chile and Australia, the Spanish will be expected to top the group and would therefore face a possible second round clash against Croatia, Mexico or Cameroon should Brazil finish top of Group A.
A possible quarter-final against England, Italy or Uruguay would not hold any fear for Del Bosque’s men before the business end of the competition starts. So, back the holders to at least reach the semi-finals with Ladbrokes at odds of 13/10. Once you reach the semi-final stage it’s anyone’s ball game and at odds of 6/1 Spain represent excellent value in the outright market.
Best World Cup Bet: Spain to qualify for at least the semi-final – 13/10
Watch Andres Iniesta score the winning goal of the 2010 final in South Africa to give Spain their first World Cup success:
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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