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FIFA World Cup finals history
Spain will head to Brazil as defending champions. Remaining loyal to the style and players that have allowed them to dominate the global and European scenes over the last five years, La Roja won the only qualification pool (aside from the South American group) to contain two world champions. In what was the smallest section in Europe with only five teams, the Spanish led the way from France thanks to a record of six wins and two draws, conceded to the French and Finland. In topping the group they let in a mere three goals, fewer than any other side in the European preliminaries. At the other end of the pitch, however, Spain enjoyed one of their less prolific campaigns, scoring only 14 times.
The key players
Though there is no doubt that Spain’s embarrassment of midfield riches, featuring the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso, has been integral to their major trophy triumphs, La Selección are strong across the board.
The men in red have a phalanx of very reliable keepers to call on, headed by Iker Casillas, while Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique have consolidated their positions as the leaders of a defence in which left-back Jordi Alba has gone from strength to strength. Ramos and Alba are also a threat in the opposing box, and in recent times have made goalscoring contributions that have been almost as decisive as those of the front men.
Coach: Vicente del Bosque
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 (Winners), FIFA U-20 World Cup Nigeria 1999 (Winners), Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Barcelona 1992 (Winners)
Former stars: Luis Suarez, Emilio Butragueno, Fernando Hierro