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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
Spain team guide

A one-stop guide to all you need to know about Spain ahead of the 2006 World Cup.

Fixtures (Group H):

  • v Ukraine - 14 June, 1400 BST, Leipzig
  • v Tunisia - 19 June, 2000 BST, Stuttgart
  • v Saudi Arabia - 23 June, 1500 BST, Kaiserslautern

    How did they get to Germany: Five wins and five draws earned them second place behind Serbia in their qualifying group and a two-legged qualifying play-off against Slovakia. Luis Garcia's hat-trick in the 5-1 first leg win rendered the second leg 1-1 draw academic.

    Qualifying star: Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres was joint fourth-highest scorer in the European qualifying zone, with seven goals. The 21-year-old's form has reportedly caught the eye of Chelsea and Arsenal among others.

    Manager: The outspoken Luis Aragones made his name as a player and coach for Atletico Madrid in the late 1960s and early 70s. As a club coach he led a nomadic existence but enjoyed success at most stops. Spain remain unbeaten in 18 games since his July 2004 appointment.

    Raul

    Captain: Real Madrid striker Raul is Spain's most capped outfield player, all-time leading scorer and the team's talisman. His goal-scoring return from a cruciate knee ligament injury has been welcomed.

    World Cup pedigree: Surely European football's greatest under-achievers on the international stage. This will be their eighth successive World Cup, but despite generations of talent, their best showing was in 1950 when they reached the final pool stage.

    World Cup high: USA 1994 was their best showing in recent years, when they lost out 2-1 to Italy in the quarter-finals after a late goal by player of the tournament Roberto Baggio.

    World Cup low: Having failed to get past the first round in 1998, Spain had three goals ruled out before a contentious penalty shoot-out elimination against South Korea in 2002.

    World Cup legend: Goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta won 126 caps and is a member of the elite club of players who appeared in four World Cups - 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998. Sadly his World Cup farewell in France saw a dreadful blunder against Nigeria which contributed to Spain's exit.

    Present star man: Raul. At the age of 28, the 2006 World Cup should be the perfect stage for the Real Madrid legend who may benefit from having had a lighter load than usual during the season following that injury.

    Iker Casillas

    Strengths: Pure talent throughout the team. In goalkeeper Iker Casillas, defender Carles Puyol and striker Raul, they have three of the world's outstanding players in their positions.

    Weaknesses: Public expectation and the burden of history. Spain are always tipped as dark horses who will finally end years of disappointment and fulfil their undoubted potential, but they never rise to the challenge.

    Did you know: In 1986, Spain's Emilio Butragueno became the first player since Portgual's Eusebio in 1966 to score four goals in a World Cup match, in the 5-1 win over Denmark.

    World ranking: 5=

    Odds: 12/1

    Local view: "I'm not very confident about the national team. They are good players but never can reach the semi-finals. I don't expect a successful World Cup." Paco Lloret, Canal Nou TV.

    Our verdict: Aragones has added muscle to Spain's silky skills but, as has been said so many times before, while they have the talent it is a question of whether they can convert it into results.

    Ranking and odds correct at 22 May. Odds supplied by William Hill.



  • 2006 WORLD CUP TEAM GUIDES
     

    SEE ALSO
    Pick your Spain XI
    31 May 06 |  Squad selectors
    Country profile: Spain
    11 Oct 05 |  Country profiles


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