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Jun 5, 2014

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts Winston Churchill

People, especially critics have been too eager to write off Spain's chances in the 2014 World Cup. They argue that the 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Brazil in the Confederations Cup as a sign of the era of Spanish domination coming to end. It is quite strange, they almost said similar things ahead of the Euro 2012! They easily forgot that Spain was similarly poor in the last confederation cup, losing to United Stated 2-0. To read too much in to the poor performance in a single competition would be a folly. After all the players who were the rock behind Spain's success are still there and kicking, the reinforcements have been arriving in quick time too. The quality of the players in the squad is unbelievable, underlined by the fact that in the recently concluded Champions League final had nine Spanish players starting.

After successfully defending their European Championship in 2012, Spain will be out for another herculean task - defending the World Title. If they succeed then they will become the second European team and the third altogether to achieve this feat. Italy and Brazil are the only one who have done it in the past. Will Spain be come the third? The recent emergence of Atletico Madrid have strengthened the Spanish National side very much. Compare to Euro 2012, the squad have been considerably strengthened. The final 23 member player list announced by Del Bosque have a mix of experience, youth, talent, strength and all you could ask in a football team.

The squad list for the 2014 World Cup is:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), David de Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli).
Defenders: Raúl Albiol (Napoli), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea).
Midfielders: Javi Martínez (Bayern Munich), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), Cesc Fàbregas (Barcelona), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), David Silva (Manchester City).
Forwards: David Villa (Atletico Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Pedro (Barcelona), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid).

The squad is brimming with talent with quality back up for each and every position. the very fact that the likes of Koke, Cesc Fabregas, Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata all could start on bench simply demonstrates the strength. Other teams in the World Cup have deficiencies at least in one position. But Spain seldom has that. In defense the Right Back position was a bit tricky for Del bosque to deal with, but the addition of Juanfran and Azpilicueta have added enough strength even in that position. The only worry for Del Bosque is the fitness of Diego Costa. It was surprising to see the coach go with Torres instead of Llorente with a question mark hanging over Costa's fitness. But that decision may give a hint of how he could line up in Brazil. Former Barcelona striker have made in to the Spain squad and has already announced his retirement after the World Cup.

One could argue that Del Bosque should have gone for Llorente instead of Torres. Then in all probability, Del Bosque needs only one striker in the starting eleven. He may have the Atletico Madrid 1-2 as his main choice striking options. There could be a chance that even he will not opt for a striker at all, instead playing Fabregas as false-9. The strength of the squad gives that kind of flexibility to the coach. The formation that could be used in most matches would be the usual 4-3-3.the defense usually picks itself with Alba, Pique, Ramos and Juanffran as first choice. Choosing the mid-fielders may give Del Bosque nightmares. He could go with the tried and tested formation of Busquets, Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Silva and Costa upfront. Or he could bring in the likes of Koke, Mata, Martinez, Cesc Fabregas. The options are too many.

Spain has been paired with Netherlands, Chile and Australia. Had it not been for Group D, this would have been definitely termed the "Group of Death". The opening match between Netherlands and Spain become really important as teh winner of this one would definitely end up as Group leader. The way these two team plays, one thing is guaranteed that there will be a winner. If they end up as Group leaders (anything other than topping the group could be a set back), they could face Croatia in most probability. If then end up second then a date with Brazil early in the tournament beckon. They would like to avoid that at any cost.

They will start as firm favourites in this tournament, in my opinion favourites than Brazil (who so many have picked as their choice). The quality in the side should definitely take them to the final stages easily. After that it will depend on their strength and character, and this Spain side has displayed it in numerous occasion.

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