Spain in search of another title
World Cup, Euro champs are FIFA's No. 1 team
FIFA ranking: 1
Head coach: Vicente del Bosque
Best result: Third place in 2009
Qualification method: 2010 World Cup champion
First-round schedule: Uruguay (June 16 @ 6 p.m. ET), Tahiti (June 20 @ 3 p.m. ET), Nigeria (June 23 @ 3 p.m. ET)
- Spain vs. Spain. The defending World Cup champions are the most successful team over the past decade and, after two consecutive European titles (2008, 2012), the Iberians will try to continue their impressive streak during the Confederations Cup as they aim for the second straight World Cup title next year. However, with many questions regarding captain Iker Casillas’s status as a starter, concerns in midfield with the absence of Xabi Alonso due to a groin injury, and an often criticized attacking game plan, the Spaniards need to overcome some internal obstacles if they want to remain the team to beat.
- Tiki-Taka. This style of play, distinguished by movement through short one-touch passes, controlling possession of the ball and dismantling the opponent’s structure on the field, is executed to perfection by the Spaniards. They're able to frustrate even the most patient teams in the world, forcing them to desperately try to change their game plan in order to regain possession. Not every team can perform such a complex system, as a talented core is required on the field, something Spain doesn’t need to worry about.
- Barcelona flavour. Nine of the 23 players that head coach Vicente del Bosque selected to represent La Roja in Brazil are part of Spanish soccer powerhouse and La Liga champion Barcelona — goalie Victor Valdes, defenders Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba; midfielders Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta; and forwards Pedro Rodriguez and David Villa. A great advantage for del Bosque, who won’t need to spend much time establishing roles or encouraging chemistry within the group.
Arguably the best midfielder in the world today, Andres Iniesta is the master behind Spain’s all-star squad. The current IFFHS world’s best playmaker and UEFA best player in Europe combines incredible dribbling, surgical passing ability and unique vision.
Iniesta’s special set of skills is one of the main reasons the "Spanish Armada’"have dominated soccer’s international stage over the past five years.
- Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid-SPA), Jose Manuel Reina (Liverpool-ENG) and Victor Valdes (Barcelona-SPA).
- Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa, Raul Albiol, Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid-SPA), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea-ENG), Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba (Barcelona-SPA) and Ignacio Monreal (Arsenal-ENG).
- Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta (Barcelona-SPA), Javier Martinez (Bayern Munich-GER), Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal-ENG), Jesus Navas (Sevilla-SPA), David Silva (Manchester City-ENG) and Juan Mata (Chelsea-ENG).
- Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez, Cesc Fabregas, David Villa (Barcelona-SPA), Roberto Soldado (Valencia-SPA) and Fernando Torres (Chelsea-ENG).