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UEFA Qualifiers

Team Profile: Spain

November 10, 2009
By Tom Adams

GettyImagesEmilio Butragueno scored four goals against Denmark in 1986

Appearances at finals:
1934 - Quarter-finals
1950 - Fourth place
1962 - First round
1966 - First round
1978 - First round
1982 - Second round
1986 - Quarter-finals
1990 - Second round
1994 - Quarter-finals
1998 - First round
2002 - Quarter-finals
2006 - Second round

Overall record at finals: Played 49, Won 22, Drawn 12, Lost 15.

Best performance: Reaching the final group round in the 1950 tournament, finishing fourth.

Most appearances at finals: Andoni Zubizarreta (1986, 1990, 1994, 1998) - 16.

Most goals at finals: Estanislao Basora (1950), Emilio Butragueno (1986, 1990), Fernando Hierro (1994, 1998, 2002), Fernando Morientes (1998, 2002), Raul (1998, 2002, 2006) - 5.

World Cup high: Emilio 'The Vulture' Butragueno tearing apart a superb Denmark side including Michael Laudrup, Soren Lerby and Preben Elkjaer in the 1986 second round, scoring four goals in a stunning 5-1 demolition of one of Europe's finest teams.

World Cup low: The 2002 campaign ending in acrimony and controversy as a succession of dubious decisions saw them lose on penalties to host nation South Korea in the quarter-finals. Jose Antonio Camacho's men were furious after two apparently good goals were disallowed.

World Cup legend: Fernando Hierro. The Real Madrid icon is Spain's joint top scorer in World Cups and is second only to Zubizarretta in terms of appearances, with 12 to his name. The defender represented his country with distinction at three finals, but failed to progress past the quarter-finals.

The story so far: It is one of the more curious statistics in World Cup history that, since their fourth-placed finish in 1950, Spain have never come closer than the quarter-finals of football's greatest competition.

Star names have come and gone and accusations of 'bottling it' have become a perennial stick with which to beat the country, but maybe, just maybe, Spain will end their long wait for a World Cup triumph in South Africa.

After decades of under-achievement and acute disappointment, La Furia Roja have real aspirations of following in the footsteps of West Germany and France by holding both the World Cup and European Championship titles at the same time.

Qualification: Spain enjoyed an impeccable campaign under Vicente del Bosque, winning ten out of ten qualifiers. Relying almost entirely on the squad that triumphed at Euro 2008, particularly top scorer David Villa, Spain were imperious and enjoyed heavy wins over Armenia (4-0), Belgium (5-0) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (5-2) to confirm the suspicion that they will be real contenders in South Africa. Their qualification campaign also witnessed the emergence of young stars such as Juan Mata and Gerard Pique, both of whom scored three goals.

Qualifying record: P10, W10, D0, L0, F28, A5, Pts30.

Most appearances: Iker Casillas, Joan Capdevila, Xavi (9).

Top goalscorer: David Villa (7).