SPAIN - GROUP A
SCHEDULE AND RESULTS
|MATCH||DATE - TIME||TEAMS||EXTRA|
|2||June 14 - 2:30 PM ET||<img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/spain.jpg" alt="Spain"/>[/CUSTOM] SPAIN vs. <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/new-zealand.jpg" alt="New Zealand"/>[/CUSTOM] NEW ZEALAND||Game Report | Full Game Video | Video Highlights | Game Tracker|
|Venue: Rustenburg - Final Result: Spain wins 5-0|
|5||June 17 - 10 AM ET||<img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/spain.jpg" alt="Spain"/>[/CUSTOM] SPAIN vs. <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/iraq.jpg" alt="Iraq"/>[/CUSTOM] IRAQ||Game Report | Full Game Video | Video Highlights | Game Tracker|
|Venue: Mangaung/Bloemfontein - Final Result: Spain wins 1-0|
|10||June 20 - 2:30 PM ET||<img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/spain.jpg" alt="Spain"/>[/CUSTOM] SPAIN vs. <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/sth-africa.jpg" alt="South Africa"/>[/CUSTOM] SOUTH AFRICA||Game Report | Full Game Video | Video Highlights | Game Tracker|
|Venue: Mangaung/Bloemfontein - Final result: Spain wins 2-0|
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Jose Manuel Reina (Liverpool, England), Diego Lopez (Villarreal)
Defenders: Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Valencia), Arbeloa (Liverpool, England), Gerard Pique (FC Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Joan Capdevilla (Villarreal)
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Santiago Cazorla (Villarreal), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal, England), Xabi Alonso (Liverpool, England), David Silva (Valencia), Juan Manuel Mata (Valencia), Xavi, (FC Barcelona), Albert Riera (Liverpool, England)
Forward: Daniel Guiza (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Fernando Llorente (Athletic de Bilbao), David Villa (Valencia), Fernando Torres (Liverpool, England)
Coach: Vicente del Bosque
Probable starting formation: (GK) Casillas — (D) Ramos, Pique, Marchena, Capdevila — (M) Busquets, Alonso, Xavi, Fabregas — (F) Torres, Villa
- Overall quality and depth: It isn't by coincidence that Spain is the reigning European champion and ranked No. 1 in the world by FIFA. At every position, the Spanish boast world-class players who test themselves in the top European leagues on a regular basis, and coach Vicente del Bosque has enough quality players that he could field two teams capable of winning the tournament.
- Confidence and momentum: Spain has an air of invincibility thanks to their victory at Euro 2008, a result that went a long way to help the Spanish put their decades of chronic underachievement behind them. Since then, the Spanish have climbed to the top of the FIFA rankings, have posted a perfect 6-0 record in the World Cup qualifiers, and enter the tournament riding a 31-game unbeaten streak.
- Easy group: The draw was very kind to the Spanish, as the European champions were placed into Group A alongside New Zealand, Iraq and South Africa, none of whom pose a serious threat to Spain, which should have little trouble advancing to the semifinals.
- Toughness: There's no denying that Spain is a highly skilled side capable of turning on the style at any time. But the Spanish lack a certain degree of grit and steel, as well as size and strength. Aside from midfielder Sergio Busquets and defender Carlos Marchena, Spain lacks players who can provide the team with a physically intimidating presence.
- Too stylish for its own good: With its slick passing game, Spain plays a beautiful brand of soccer, but it's not always effective. The Spaniards are often too preoccupied with playing attractive soccer and are loath to employ a more tactical style, even though the situation and opponent might call for it. Spain has to learn to play with a more ruthless and cutting edge.
- Weight of expectations: Being the European champions and world's No. 1 ranked team comes at a price. After their Euro triumph a year ago, expectations are running high amongst Spanish fans for their heroes to duplicate the feat in South Africa. Spain finds itself in the unusual role of tournament favourite, so it'll be interesting to see how the team deals with the pressure.
- Iker Casillas: One of the best goalkeepers in the world, the Real Madrid star provides Spain with a secure presence between the posts thanks to his knack for making fantastic saves. Even more important is his ability to read the game and organize his defenders, allowing him to snuff out the opponent's attacking endeavours before trouble even forms.
- Xavi Hernandez: Named player of the tournament at Euro 2008 after guiding Spain to victory, the FC Barcelona star is a supremely skilled playmaker who combines imagination and creativity, immaculate passing skills and great vision on the field.
- Fernando Torres: The golden boy of Spanish soccer and one of the most dangerous forwards in the game. Nicknamed El Nino (The Kid), Torres is coming off a solid second season for Liverpool in which he scored 14 goals. Torres is lightning quick, a deadly finisher and a player of such high class with the ball at his feet that he routinely makes the spectacular look ordinary.
Key injuries/squad omissions: FC Barcelona playmaker Andres Iniesta has been ruled because of a thigh injury. Barcelona teammate and defender Gerard Pique is also carrying a thigh injury but should be able to play for Spain. Villarreal defensive midfielder Marcos Senna was ruled out because of a hamstring strain. Villarreal midfielder Santi Cazorla recently played for the first time in nearly two months after recovering from a broken leg.
ROAD TO FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP
2009 Confederations Cup qualification route: Spain booked its spot in South Africa by winning Euro 2008 in Austria.
- FIFA member since: 1904
- Current FIFA ranking: #1
- Team nickname: La Seleccion, La Roja
- All-time caps leaders: Andoni Zubizarreta (126)
- All-time leading scorer: Raul (44 goals)
- Number of previous Confederations Cup appearances: 0
- European Champions: 1964, 2008
- Under-20 World Champions: 1999
- Under-21 European Champions: 1986, 1998
- Olympic Gold Medal: 1992
- Olympic Silver Medal: 1920, 2000
Emilio Butragueno: Butragueno earned the nickname "The Vulture" as one of the most dangerous strikers of the 1980s. He scored four goals in a game against Denmark at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, helping Spain reach the quarter-finals. A Real Madrid legend, he led the club to six Spanish league titles between 1986 and 1995.
Andoni Zubizarreta: Zubizarreta is one of Spain's greatest goalkeepers, appearing in four World Cups (1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998). He earned 126 caps (a Spanish record) before retiring from international competition after the 1998 World Cup.