Being favourites is a terrible trap... football can be very cruel to those who think they are better, said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, and when complacency is cited as a potential weakness, it is because there is no other. Since their Euro 2008 triumph, Spain have been top of the Fifa rankings for 16 of the subsequent 21 months, set a world record of 15 consecutive victories, and qualified for the World Cup by winning an unprecedented 10 games out of 10.
Along the way they have beaten England, Argentina and, gloriously, France. Spain had not won in Paris for 42 years and had been eliminated by the French at the last World Cup, but their effortless 2-0 victory in March had even the Parisians purring. Chants of Ole came from all sides of the stadium as Spain gave a masterclass. Praise was effusive after that game, but captain Iker Casillas was quick to remember the shock defeat by the USA in last summer's Confederations Cup in South Africa. "We don't feel invincible, far from it," he said. But with an unrivalled depth of talent, Spain rightly head to South Africa as favourites to end their wait for World Cup glory.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.