Spain had several disappointing runs in the World Cup. Since their last championship in 2010, La Roja’s World Cup performances have been subpar at best. Can they turn things around in Qatar?
Many football fans thought they would dominate the next decade after a spectacular showing in the 2010 finals, but they haven’t reached the knockout stage. This turned the Spanish national team into an afterthought in the tournament while World Cup giants like Brazil and France continued to perform well.
Despite all failed attempts, the squad is optimistic about their chances and is seeking to return to stardom in the 2022 World Cup. If you’re thinking of betting on Spain in the World Cup, here is a comprehensive guide about the team and their chances of winning it all:
A Spanish tale: La Roja’s road to World Cup glory in 2010
The biggest reason for La Roja’s success in the 2010 World Cup was manager Vicente Del Bosque’s system of passing the ball behind the net. Their passing play helped Spain control the match’s tempo and diminished the opposing teams’ possession.
This led to many scoreless goals for the competitors and easy wins. Football fans thought that the 2010 World Cup was boring for the most part because of blowout leads, but more expert opinions state otherwise.
Analysts believe the 2010 Spanish national team had similar attributes to the older Brazilian squads that also dominated in their era. They played the game beautifully and ensured every player touched the ball to find the best man to strike a goal.
Now, football is player-centric, where the best players tend to make the play by themselves, which the average-football fan loves to see. In 2010, La Roja was a unit where each player knew their role perfectly. It resulted in one of the most lopsided World Cups and thrilling finals.
Spain’s road to the 2022 World Cup
Spain’s got a tough road ahead in the Qatar World Cup. They landed in the Pot 1 draw, meaning they had to compete against one of the better teams in the tournament. This places them in Group E alongside Germany, Costa Rica, and Japan.
What does the pathway of Spain look like moving forward? Below are the projected teams and fixtures the La Rojas have to face to reach World Cup 2022 glory:
In June 2022, Costa Rica beat New Zealand to qualify for Group E in the FIFA World Cup group stage. This means that Spain has to face them in the tournament’s opening match. The Golden Shorties finished strong during the CONCACAF conference but nearly blew it by one goal.
Getting qualified in the group stage is no easy feat, but the official World Cup will play differently. Group E is one of the more competitive brackets in the tournament, and it will take a miracle for Costa Rica to make it out of the group stage.
Spain World Cup 2022 matches up well against the slower and older Costa Rican team. Six players are way over their primes, like Keylor Navas and Bryan Ruiz, that serve as Costa Rica’s defensive anchors. Not even Luis Fernando Suarez can uplift the team over La Roja. With this, the Spanish national team’s offence will be too much for the Golden Shorties to stop, and La Roja is expected to win this matchup by a landslide.
Germany is arguably Spain’s most challenging opponent in the group stage. Manager Hansi Flick wants to keep things simple by going for his reliable 4-2-3-1 formation. Flick believes in his players like Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich, and Manuel Neuer to execute the game plan flawlessly, which Germany has always been known to do.
Germany is a massive threat to Spain because of the young talent from Bayern Munich, Jamal Musiala, an early football sensation. This 19-year-old midfielder is a two-way player who is fast and skilled enough to defend the best strikers and juke past pesky defenders for a flashy goal.
Spain has capable players to stop Jamal, but Germany’s efficient game plan will pose a problem when they play more as a unit rather than relying on only one person to make plays. But if the previous two World Cups taught you anything, Germany has had back-to-back disappointments that led to early exits in the tournament.
Talent and a proven game plan alone don’t guarantee a spot in the knockout stage anymore. Germany has to be a cohesive unit playing with the right balance of star power and brilliant coaching execution to be successful in the tournament.
Looking at the World Cup rankings, Germany is only 11th compared to Spain’s 7th. Germany will be their biggest obstacle if Spain wants to make it out of the group stage.
The final team, Spain, needs to knock out Japan. Of all the Group E matchups, Japan is the youngest after manager Hajime Moriyasu decided to leave seasoned veterans in favour of a more youthful roster.
As much as Hajime wants to think that this will benefit them in the group stage, the lack of experience will hurt this team moving forward. Spain’s mix of young and veteran talents will propel Japan’s inexperienced squad, especially with Luis Enrique’s balanced rotations.
Japan’s greatest asset is its defence which is led by Takehiro Tomiyasu, who is treacherous in guarding the football with all his might. Alongside Maya Yoshida, their defensive unit will cause issues for Spain’s older forwards. However, experience always beats youthful passion in the World Cup.
If Spain is lucky enough to escape the highly-competitive Group E round, they’ll need to face 16 other excellent squads to reach the final four spots of the tournament. There are at least three teams that pose the biggest threats to Spain. They are:
It’s uncommon to see Brazil not show up in the top 5 favourites to win the FIFA World Cup. Likewise, the team is a huge threat to just about any country that will face them. Spain is no exception. If they somehow meet in the knockout stage, La Roja must give it all to beat the Brazilian super team.
Led by Neymar and Thiago Silva, Brazil’s offence was historically at its best when Pele was their main superstar. If Spain somehow pulls a victory over Brazil, it will be one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
Like Brazil, Argentina’s odds keep skyrocketing as long as Lionel Messi remains in the lineup. Argentina has the third-highest odds of winning, and their offence is on par with Brazil’s. While Spain’s defence is adequate to hold off Argentina’s attack line, Messi’s greatness continues to be a massive threat to many teams like La Roja.
The defending champions from the 2018 World Cup are a considerable obstacle for many teams. Their offensive lineup of Kylian Mbappe and Hugo Lloris is some of the best in the tournament. If they replicate how they did in the 2018 finals, any team, including Brazil, will have difficulty advancing past them.
Deconstructing Spain’s squad: Team dynamics and past performances
There’s a lot to unpack about Spain’s roster. If you’re considering betting on Spain, take a look at their lineup and how each player fits in their specific roles and the team’s past performances:
Best Spanish players
La Roja has an impressive pool of both veteran and young talents. With the right game plan and circumstances, the lineup can beat any team in the World Cup. Three core Spanish players are considered the hearts and souls of the team.
Similarly to Kylian Mbappe, Pedri is a 19-year-old up-and-coming superstar who can shock everyone at the tournament. For his age, he is brilliant and can read plays when opponents try to execute a game plan against them.
His emergence is why Spain contends with the best teams in the FIFA World Cup. Pedri’s speed and athleticism are also parallel to other star players in the top favourites, like Kylian Mbappe and Jamal Musiala.
Yeremy Pino is a right-winger who makes the most meticulous plays in every possession. Spain’s production becomes lethal when he plays on the field, and they struggle when the manager sits him out of games.
He is crucial in the team’s centre-attack and defence, which is why Pino is a crucial part of Spain’s roster. He also made eight goals and four assists on his way to the qualifying rounds.
Arguably, Spain’s best player, Gavi, is the only player in the World Cup who is being compared to a younger Lionel Messi. Like the legend himself during his youth, Gavi is swift and has an innate ability to dribble the ball with immense dexterity. Alongside Pedri, Gavi’s impact on the team boosts Spain’s chance of winning the World Cup.
Luis Enrique’s system
Luis Enrique’s system was always about the classic 2010 championship team’s passing mentality that got them the trophy in the first place. The biggest reason the squad has not accomplished anything since then is the execution.
Spain’s roster changed over the years after beating the Netherlands in the finals. This was because of expectations that the team needed an upgrade following their title. It was a huge mistake on Spain’s part because had they kept the roster from the 2010 World Cup, they would have competed well against anyone in the succeeding World Cups.
In Enrique’s new system, the classic 4-3-3 formation can return because of speedsters like Gavi and Pedri at the offensive helm. Spain’s biggest concern, however, is their lacklustre defence which can lead to easy goals for the opponents. While they could be better at defending the goal, a few things still need to be addressed before they compete against the best World Cup teams in 2022.
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