Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque believes Barcelona's Champions League exit to Inter Milan should serve as a warning of what could happen to the European champions at the World Cup.
Defending champion Barcelona had 75 per cent of the possession and 12 shots to Inter's one in Wednesday's 1-0 victory over the Italians, but exited the competition at the semifinal stage by a 3-2 aggregate score.
"It's a reflection of what can happen to us and what football is all about. A team that is technically superior … a team absolutely dominating the situation (but) that is incapable of winning," Del Bosque told The Associated Press in an interview Friday. "I think these warnings come at the right time and we cannot ignore them. He who doesn't want to see this is living outside of reality."
Barcelona players are integral to Spain's lineup, with defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique as well as midfielders Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets expected to feature in the Group H opener against Switzerland on June 16.
Del Bosque, speaking from the team's headquarters on the outskirts of the Spanish capital, said Barcelona's exit mirrors what happened to Spain at last year's Confederations Cup. Spain dominated the United States — outshooting the Americans 29 to nine — but lost 2-0 after getting caught out on the counterattack.
"Any team that works together and comes together and has the energy to come out on the counterattack can do you damage," Del Bosque said. "In football you can't stick by what you did yesterday, you must always have intentions (to improve) and always be ready for difficulties.
"We shouldn't change our ways and habits, but there are moments in a game where we have to know how to adapt. You have to always be ready to work because our rivals will force us to do other things."
Del Bosque is confident Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas and Iniesta will recover from injuries in time to play in South Africa, although Del Bosque said Torres' return is the biggest doubt as the Liverpool striker recovers from knee surgery.
"It seems to me that when you're talking about surgery in the joint, as in the case of Fernando Torres, there's always an inclination to have some doubt," Del Bosque said. "But we expect all the players to be with us on the 24th."
Del Bosque said Spain isn't the only pre-tournament favourite with substantial injury concerns. England is waiting on Wayne Rooney's status after the Manchester United striker has been sidelined by recent ankle and groin injuries.
"Do you think (manager Fabio) Capello isn't worried about Rooney?" Del Bosque asked.
The Spain team will gather in Madrid on May 24 before playing Saudi Arabia in the first of three friendlies five days later. Del Bosque has to submit his final 23-man squad list to FIFA by June 1.
Spain also plays Honduras and Chile in the group stage.