Team profile - Spain
After lifting the 2008 European Championships, will Spain succeed on the world stage?
AP Photo, Alberto Saiz
Coach: Vicente Del Bosque
Star player: Xavi Hernandez
Previous World Cup appearances: 12
Best result: Fourth (1950)
Not to be confused with: Netherlands, their fellow World Cup under-achievers.
Style of play: Don't give Spain possession, you won't be getting the ball back for a while.
How they qualified: Runaway winners of European Group 5 with a perfect 10 wins from 10 games.
In a penalty shoot-out: A mixed bag: beat the Republic of Ireland on pens in the last 16 in World Cup 2002 then lost on spot kicks to South Korea in the following round.
Their domestic league: In terms of skill level, La Liga's Primera Division is the best league in the world. Its traditional superpowers, Real Madrid and Barcelona, have won 50 league titles between them. La Liga might not be as entertaining as the Premier League, but it is Europe's home of the beautiful game.
ITV's Clive Tyldesley will say: "So long the under-achievers at major tournaments, now the class of Europe."
You will say: "Spain are the only team to top FIFA's world rankings without winning the World Cup."
Chances: Spain's reputation as under-achievers was swiftly erased as they passed their way to a memorable Euro 2008 triumph. Can they do the same in the World Cup? On paper, the answer has to be a resounding yes. Powered by midfield maestro Xavi, Spain play sublime attacking football but they also possess the steel and guile to win when they're not at their best. In 10 qualifying games, they scored 28 goals and conceded five. Anything less than a place in the final will be considered a disappointment.
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