Defending champions Spain hope to make history in Brazil

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Sneak peak on the World Cup 2014

With the FIFA World Cup in Brazil fast approaching, defending champions Spain figure in many World Cup 2014 bet shortlists, but what are the chances of them defending their crown?

Spain have been at the top of football for some years now, they are the World champions, the European champions and have deserved many plaudits for their style of football. However, some observers believe they are coming towards the end of their period of dominance.

The midfield duo of Xavi and Andres Iniesta have found this season tougher than most as Barcelona struggle to stay in a fascinating three-way fight for the La Liga title, alongside the two Madrid rivals, Real and Atletico. The Spanish defence has traditionally been the weak spot, if one exists, and, four years on from the last tournament and with much hotter temperatures, it may be that younger, fitter attacks will have some success when running at an ageing Spanish back line.

 

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No strike force?

World Cup 2014 odds tips for the Golden Boot (top scorer) is an interesting dilemma, especially where Spain are concerned. They have famously achieved success despite the lack of a main striker. Since Fernando Torres lost his way after struggling for form domestically with Chelsea, they have, on occasions played without a striker, trusting their talented midfield to get forward and score the goals needed.

Their last game in a major tournament demonstrated the success of that approach. Vicente del Bosque’s side had attracted criticism in getting to the final of the 2012 European Championships. Their ruthless possession game was being labelled “boring” and they were accused of being negative in their approach to games.

However, facing Italy in the final, the Spanish answered those critics in the best style possible, winning the game 4-0. They employed Cesc Fabregas as a so called “false number nine” but showed that playing without a recognised striker need not be a negative tactic as they passed the ball about with devastating effect.

That 2012 win was their third major tournament success in a row, having also won the 2010 World Cup and the European Championships in 2008. The critics will be out in force again before Brazil 2014, arguing that the best days for the Spanish team are behind them. However, their recent success ensures they will be among the favourites.

 

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Adopted son a danger man

One striker who has forced his way into contention ahead of the World Cup is Diego Costa, who controversially made his Spanish debut as they beat Italy 1-0 in a recent friendly. Costa was born in Brazil and played for them twice last year. However, because neither game was a competitive fixture, they did not rule out the forward playing for another country and he has chosen now to play for his adopted home of Spain.

He failed to impress on his debut however and whether he makes the starting 11 for Spain’s opening World Cup game, against the Netherlands in a repeat of the 2010 final remains to be seen. That game will also provide an insight into how the two teams have progressed in the four years since and whether Spain are still on course to win a fourth major tournament in a row.

 

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