Previous
SC Freiburg
Hertha Berlin
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Elche
Eibar
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Bordeaux
Evian Thonon Gaillard
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Salt Lake
Colorado Rapids
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Tijuana
Santos
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
FC Arsenal Tula
Mordovia Saransk
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Elche
Eibar
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SC Freiburg
Hertha Berlin
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Bordeaux
Evian Thonon Gaillard
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Partick Thistle
St Mirren
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Carpi
Trapani
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Spezia
Virtus Entella
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Erzgebirge Aue
St Pauli
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
TSV Eintracht Braunschweig
SV Darmstadt 98
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
VfR Aalen
SV Sandhausen
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
AJ Auxerre
AC Ajaccio
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Ajaccio GFCO
Dijon FCO
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Brest
Arles
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Chateauroux
AS Nancy Lorraine
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Créteil
Clermont Foot
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Niort
Valenciennes
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sochaux
Nimes
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Stade Laval
Angers
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Tours
Orléans
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Willem II Tilburg
NAC Breda
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Achilles '29
FC Oss
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Den Bosch
Helmond Sport
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Fortuna Sittard
FC Eindhoven
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Jong PSV
Sparta Rotterdam
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
MVV Maastricht
De Graafschap
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SC Stormvogels Telstar
Jong FC Twente
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
VVV Venlo
Almere City
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Guimaraes
Paços de Ferreira
7:30 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Arsenal Tula
Mordovia Saransk
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Athlone Town FC
Bohemians
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bray
St Patricks
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Dundalk
Derry City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Salt Lake
Colorado Rapids
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
UNAM
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Tijuana
Santos
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Quilmes
Lanús
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Colón de Santa Fe
San Martín de San Juan
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlante
Mineros de Zacatecas
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Coras Tepic
Dorados de Sinaloa
1:30 AM GMT
Game Details
América RN
Portuguesa de Desportos
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Joinville
Goianiense
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Ceará
Avaí
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
General Díaz
Guaraní
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Nagoya Grampus Eight
Vantforet Kofu
6:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlético Nacional
Deportivo Cali
12:45 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Next
Jun 10, 2014

32 Teams in 32 Days: Spain

Defending champions Spain are in search of their fourth consecutive major trophy. Will La Roja become the first European country to win a World Cup in the Americas?

Group B | Netherlands | Chile | Australia


Team DNA

Spain have based their recent success on technique, ball possession, intelligence and constant circulation of the ball, looking for space and opportunities. They hold all this as a philosophy -- they cherish and defend it.

- 32 Teams in 32 Days: Country-by-country previews

- Predictions: Outlook for Spain

- #WorldCupRank: No. 8 ... Xavi Hernandez

- World Cup blog: Spain updates

If a team wants to go toe-to-toe with them, they do so at their peril. If they are physically better and have more stamina, they may win. If they do it when they are not at the top of their game, Spain will cut loose and usually win by a good margin.

Most teams choose caution, a more stifling approach. Manager Vicente del Bosque wants victory with style and honesty, but he also values organization and order in the midfield.

Starting scenario

History

This will be Spain's 10th straight World Cup appearance and 14th overall. They won it all four years ago in South Africa and their best previous performance was finishing fourth overall in 1950.

How they reached Brazil

Having won the 2012 Euros, Spain's path to Brazil looked like a stroll on paper. Georgia, Belarus, France, Finland -- not necessarily a group to make them quake. But it proved very interesting.

Injuries at various moments to Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas, among others, meant that draws at home against France and away versus Finland left no margin for error. The really big "champion" performance came in Paris. Pedro's lone goal, the save of Victor Valdés' international career, and Spain booked their trip to Brazil.

The numbers never lie

Calculating a nation's passion for the game based on how well it pays its manager, attends its games and gets out to play:

Key battles

Spain's run of victories between 2007 and 2013 established this group of players (the core group and those who have flitted on and off the squad during the three tournaments over that span) as the most successful in history. They beat every great squad -- England, Italy, France, Argentina, Germany, Holland, Chile, Portugal -- except Brazil.

Then came the 2013 Confederations Cup final in Rio and a meeting against the hosts. After a draining 120 minutes and penalties against Italy in the semifinals, in the humidity and heat of Fortaleza, Spain weren't ready for Brazil. They didn't start well and lost 3-0. Spain believed they played at a huge disadvantage due to the match schedule, lack of rest and that Brazil were allowed what they saw as far too much leeway for fouling.

You won't catch any of La Roja speaking about a rival any further ahead than the next game. But Brazil, yes, they are in Spain's sights after last summer.

Most important player

How do you identify one key man on a team that is built on the power of the system? Spain hold the ball well, if Casillas, Alonso, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Piqué and Sergio Busquets are all fit. But how does one open up teams that "park the bus"? Well, once again, the ability of Andrés Iniesta to split open even the most cynical defence must make him Spain's key man.

Definition of success

Del Bosque wants a certain definition of "success" broadened to include Spain defending their title with dignity and fair play, but equally being able to lose with grace and sportsmanship.

- Video: Spain odds in World Cup (Australia only)

Once that concept is established, don't doubt that Spain are there to retain their title. And they believe they will. Not one of them has avoided the sting of defeat in a big moment, so you'll be hard-pressed to find a single La Roja player who hasn't contemplated the massive task of a fourth straight tournament won as a European squad in South America.

How far will Spain go?

They will reach the Cup final.

ESPN FC Analysts' take: Steve McManaman

Honestly, what can you say? They are the team to beat. Spain are a fantastic side and should probably go down as the greatest national team ever. And out of all the teams that we're going to see in Brazil, this one is best on the eye. These players may not win the World Cup, but they will play better and more attractive football than everyone else.

Pique and Ramos are not the biggest centre-backs, and playing in La Liga, they're not used to the hustle and bustle of having to defend against big centre forwards. So any set pieces, corners, free kicks into the box, where height is an advantage -- that's big trouble for Spain.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.