At this year’s World Cup, Spain will be looking to make even more history in Brazil with the country’s second World Cup win. Winning two World Cups would not come close to the all-time leaders in World Cup wins, of course, which is currently Brazil with five, but history would still be made by La Roja.
In winning this year’s World Cup, Spain would become the first European team ever to win the illustrious trophy on South American soil and only the third team in history, after Brazil and Italy, to win back-to-back World Cups. It would be fitting for such history to be made, not only on a stage as big as a World Cup in Brazil, but also being the final World Cup for one of the greatest and most successful double acts in the history of the game.
Barcelona‘s Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta are one of the greatest one-two combinations the game has ever seen, and it certainly seems that it will be the final World Cup appearance for the pairing this summer. 30-year-old Iniesta could be around for the World Cup in Russia in 2018, but 34-year-old Xavi will almost certainly not be.
Xavi’s body has already been breaking down in the last two seasons, and Brazil, you would have to think, will be his final World Cup showing. How fitting that such an integral part of two all-time great teams could bring the curtain down by making yet more history together. It would be fitting, but it will be complicated also.
Spain still have one of the most talented squads around, with multiple choices for every position. Whether they can make yet more history is to be decided, but whether they do or not, one of the greatest double acts ever seen will be making their final appearance together at a World Cup; that alone will be enough reason to watch Spain closely and just enjoy the ride. After that, the history will take care of itself.
Diego Costa, Fernando Torres and new New York City FC signing David Villa are the main striking options for Vicente Del Bosque. Costa is the clear favorite to play the striker role, although Spain could also opt for a false nine too. Costa has struggled with injuries lately, which could open the door for Torres or Villa to start instead, or even make the false nine more of an option.
If Del Bosque does go for a false nine upfront, then David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Santi Cazorla or Juan Mata could all fill that position. Silva, Mata, Cazorla and Barcelona winger Pedro Rodriguez could all play out wide too.
The midfield has been the strongest area of the Spain team for many years now, and nothing has changed in that respect with the current squad. Xavi and Iniesta will be joined by Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets as the defensive midfielder of three.
Xabi Alonso, Koke, Cazorla and Fabregas will all be options in the center too. Javi Martinez could also get game time in midfield but is expected to primarily be cover for the center-backs first and foremost.
Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique are expected to lock-down the center of the defense, with Martinez and Raul Albiol playing the backup roles.
In the fullback positions, Jordi Alba is expected to be the left-back, while Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea and Juanfran of Atletico Madrid will contend the right-back position. Azpilicueta can play either fullback position and may simply provide cover for both roles.
Spain unquestionably have the best collection of goalkeepers in the world. Iker Casillas will be the No. 1 choice, with Pepe Reina and Manchester United‘s David De Gea being the two backups. Even without the injured Victor Valdes, Spain still have the best goalkeeping lineup you will find anywhere in the world.
Spain have a complicated group but one that you would expect they’ll eventually win. They should then ease through the second round and quarterfinal stages but will fall in the semifinals against who you would expect to be an Argentina led by a determined Lionel Messi.