Arguably the greatest team to have ever played the game enter the tournament amongst the favorites once again, but can the Spanish pull off the seemingly impossible task of winning four major tournaments in a row?
The soccer gods have shone down on Spain for nearly a decade now because the team plays the purest form of football you will ever see with their pass-centric mindset and their ability to control the pace throughout the game. The midfield’s majestic play enables the creators of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta to serve as the conductors for the side that makes beautiful music out on the pitch.
Spain’s qualifying effort was almost flawless as the team notched a 6-0-2 record in a group that also included a formidable French side. Now, the Spanish return to Brazil in search of redemption just a year after losing to Brazil in the final of the Confederations Cup. This was the first time in a long time the Spanish side looked vulnerable, but was that just an aberration or is Spain’s reign as the gold standard about to come to an end?
Spain has depth at the midfield position that others can only dream of, but if Spain is going to repeat as World Cup Champions they will need the forwards to play an even larger role than they have played in the past. Diego Costa joins veteran forwards Fernando Torres and David Villa in an attack that should make opposing defenses quiver in fear.
The Atletico Madrid pairing of Costa and Villa should provide the familiarity a truly deadly front line needs, and although Spain’s chances do not solely rely on the health of Costa, he provides an attacking style the Spanish have lacked in the past.
Along with a star-studded midfield is a defense that has one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Iker Casillas and a sound defensive line headlined by Sergio Ramos.
Spain open up group play with a rematch of the World Cup Final in 2010 against a Netherlands team that has been inconsistent since that match. Spain will then meet Chile and Australia in the remaining two group games, but Spain should make easy work of both opponents as both teams lack a strong presence on defense where Spain flourishes.
Spain have won anything and everything over the past six years including the 2008 and 2012 Euros and the 2010 World Cup, but will this be the tournament that someone finally dethrones the ultimate Champions?
Many have said that the Spanish side is too old to defend their title and that a new form of football will push aside the Spanish’s way. Well, you can go ahead and put your money on that notion, and I will put mine on the old guard whose method of winning is tried and true. This Spanish generation is a team that truly embodies the spirit of the game, and if and when they hoist the Cup this year, there will be no questions as to what the greatest team of all time is.
Greg Douglas is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.