Defending World champions, back to back European champions perhaps the best international team in history Spain's 30 man provisional squad is ahead of the opposition on paper.
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid).
Xavi (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Ander Iturraspe (Athletic Bilbao), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Juan Mata (Manchester United), David Silva (Manchester City), Pedro (Barcelona), Jesus Navas (Manchester City)
Spain should be the clear favourites for the World Cup. As you can see they have the strongest squad of any team and the best balance of any of the top nations. The have all the experience you could ever want and their possession game will suit the weather conditions the matches will be played in. The Confederation Cup final smashing by Brazil will have given them a wake up call if they really needed it.
The theory to beating them has been to defend as deep and narrow as possible suffocating the numerous ball playing Spanish midfield players then breaking on them with fast counters. Spain though now have adopted Diego Costa (brazilian born) into their squad. The hope is that his centre forward hold play l be more effective than the remaining spanish forwards. Of the squad it is expected only Costa and Llorente will make the final 23 with Cesc acting as the third forward as a false no9. Thiago will miss out through injury.
Incredibly the bookmakers have them 4th favourites. Amazing but this is based on the idea it is one tournament to many for the squad. Considering the conditions and power of the spanish squad they remain europes best hope. To me they are the team to beat and
As normal the key to Spain's success will be the fitness and form of their star duo Xavi and Iniesta. If fit and Costa available as new option they will take the beating.
Fantasy players to watch
Can't get in the Real Madrid starting 11 but captain for his country. Spain's control of possession increases his clean sheet chances.
Has become Real's first choice right back. Having his first international competition is a risk but likely to be a cheap option into the Spain defence.
The fullback finds himself flying involved in the spanish attack as much as any player. With Iniesta cutting inside his overlapping runs were a great weapon at Euro 2012. In particular when playing teams losing to Spain he was the pace in the counterattack. Scored in the final of Euro 2012, twice in last summer's Confederations Cup plus his assists he offers value both end of the pitch.
In a tough season for Barcelona Iniesta has been a standout player. He scored the winner in the world cup final four years ago and as long as fit is a safe starter. Fantastic player , one of the all time greats and can offer goals, assists and bonus points depending on the fantasy games of choice rules.
We all know about Silva quality. How good are Spains options in attacking midfield? well it means that Silva may find himself benched. If we become sure he will start he will spend plenty of time in the final third while Spain dominate
Spains false number 9 played more in Euro 2012 than predicted. Early voices of course was that could not win without a forward were shot down as Spain were their most dominate yet. Cesc starting spot over the regular forwards was as a result of Spain controlling games so much their opponents are pushed back so deep there was no space in behind for Fernando Torres or David Villa. Spain now have pair of forwards who can play in such claustrophobic spots meaning Cesc make play a number of roles through the tournament. Depending on the opponent he may find himself alongside a centre mid, playing behind the forward, on either wide role or again back to the false 9.
Has had an amazing season leading Atletico Madrid to La Liga glory but suffering a hamstring injury that may keep him out of the Champions League final. As highlighted above Spain have had issues playing teams who sit extremely deep. Costa have been viewed as the answer to the problem as a target man comfortable in limited space and deadly from crosses. Spain have tough group but such is their pedigree they may leave Costa up their sleeve for the knockout rounds.