World Cup Wonder – Del Bosque’s stars must handle pressure to win glory

Spain go into the World Cup as favourites and it will be up to Vincent Del Bosque to successfully manage the pressure that comes with being tipped to win the tournament. Del Bosque has at his disposal arguably the best squad in the tournament, especially in midfield where he is spoilt for choice. Although Spain won Euro 2008 success on the biggest stage of them all has eluded them so far.

In goal they will have one of the best keepers in the world in Iker Casillas, as captain he will look to inspire his team-mates with solid performances between the sticks. Casillas had a solid season for Real Madrid and has over 100 caps to his name so the occasion will not get the better of him. Acting as understudies to Casillas will be Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes, both are excellent keepers and would be numbers ones for any other team in the competition. Spain are lucky to have players of that calibre as back up and it just shows the depth in quality they have all around the squad. Spain are likely to start with four at the back. The centre spots will be filled by Barcelona’s Carlos Puyol and Valencia’s Carlos Marchena. Over the years these two have proved to be a formidable partnership for Spain in the middle and they are unlikely to fazed by any strikers in the tournament.

Filling the full back spots will be Sergio Ramos and Joan Capedevila. Ramos is a world class player and has over 50 caps so has the experience and the ability to deal with any left-sided winger in the competition. Capedevila is perhaps the weak link in the Spain back line and he may struggle against the better teams in the competiton, he does however have a lot of experience at International level which will keep him in good stead. Other options available to Del Bosque are pairing Carlos Puyol with his club team-mate Gerard Pique who has been a revelation since moving to the Nou Camp. Raul Albiol and Alvaro Arbeloa will also provide competition for places within the back four.

Spain’s midfield is the envy of every team in this year’s tournament. Del Bosque will have to choose carefully as to which of the stars available to him to leave out. One issue Del Bosque may have is the match fitness of Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta who missed the final couple of months of the season with injuries, the situation may seen them eased into the tournament rather than thrown straight in. Del Bosque also has Xavi and Xabi Alonso to call on to fill the spaces in the centre of midfield. If Fabregas is up to it he is likely to replace Alonso, with Iniesta featuring on the wing. Filling the other slot in midfield is likely to be David Silva who seems to be on every major clubs shopping list in the summer, a strong performance in the World Cup will only increase the chances of a move from Valencia for whom he has played so brilliantly this season. If these options aren’t enough Sergio Busquets is available to play as a holding midfielder, while Jesus Navas and Juan Mata offer options on the wing, with Javi Martinez as an extra option in the centre.

Up front again Spain are blessed with outstanding players. In Fernando Torres and David Villa they have arguably the most potent strike force in the tournament, both have been in great from for the club sides and have enough experience to cope with the demands of a World Cup. Expect either one of these two to end up with the golden boot. Other attacking options available to Del Bosque include Fernando Lorente and Pedro Rodriguez who can also feature out wide.

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