Spain has to prove its Euro 2008 victory wasn't a fluke - no easy task. They face a very accomplished Chile, a physically strong Honduras and the dark horse Switzerland in the group stage.
They will retain the core of the Euro 2008 squad and play the trademark ball possession and passing game. Fernando Torres will lead the forward line, with David Villa, who will drift into wide positions often; both supported by David Silva and Andres Iniesta on the wings with Xavi Hernandez in the midfield alongside Xabi Alonso or Marcos Senna. Ramos-Pique-Albiol-Capdevila will start at the back.
The bench will feature the electric winger from Seville, Jesus Navas, the prolific Pedro Rodriguez of Barcelona and the big center forward Fernando Llorente of Bilbao as an option B to help break through defensive walls in the second halves.
Coach Vicente Del Bosque has a potentially debilitating three injured players (Torres, Iniesta and Fabregas) with six weeks to go, who are expected to be fit just in time for the World Cup. Some key players from the Euro 2008, Marcos Senna and Santi Cazorla, are struggling and could miss the world cup. Injuries apart, I believe they have a strong squad and a very good talent pool to choose from.
The biggest positional weakness is the left-back position. First choice Joan Capdevila aged 32 is great going forward but teams can exploit the space behind him when he doesn’t track back. They can also stifle Spain on the left side if he stays back against attacking right wingers/backs. Tactically, counterattacking teams that are comfortable without the ball and opponents with a big physical presence will pose a threat to Spain.
Spain can go all the way, unless they run into Brazil in the second round - which cuts their chances to 50-50.
Spain has announced the 30 probables. No big surprises. The fact that they selected 5 goalkeepers in the list indicates they have few selection worries.
Prediction : Champion, if they dont cross swords with Brasil in the 2nd round