Confederations Cup 2013 team previews: Spain

Laurence Griffiths

Still ranked as the best team in the world, Spain will be looking to secure their first ever Confederations Cup crown.

Winners of the last three major international competitions they've played in, Spain come into the Confederations Cup as clear favourites. Their squad is made up of vastly experienced players, with 12 of their 23-man squad included in the Euro 2008 squad which kick-started their incredible run of international success.

They are unbeaten in 25 competitive matches, having not lost a game that mattered since their opening group match of the 2010 World Cup against Switzerland. They did, of course, go on to win that same World Cup. Their last competitive defeat before then was in the 2009 Confederations Cup, when they were surprisingly beaten 2-0 in the semi-finals by the United States. That means the Confederations Cup is the one international trophy missing from Spain's collection, but they've got a great chance of claiming it this time.

There have been recent suggestions that the domination of Spain in world football was reaching a natural conclusion, with their style of hogging possession losing out domestically in the Champions League. However, history would show that they Spain should never be written off. They unquestionably remain a serious force, with their seemingly effortless hammering of Italy in last year's Euro 2012 final one of their greatest performances yet.

Projected starting lineup (4-3-3)

GK Víctor Valdés LB Jordi Alba CB Sergio Ramos CB Gerard Piqué RB Álvaro Arbeloa CM Andrés Iniesta CM Sergio Busquets CM Xavi Hernández LW Juan Mata CF David Villa RW David Silva

Spain's style of play is obvious by now, with Vicente del Bosque's team looking to suffocate their opponents through endless passing and control of possession. However, there's a bit more uncertainty about actual personnel, with Xabi Alonso leaving room in the midfield after being omitted from the squad with a groin injury.

Their recent friendly against the Republic of Ireland seems to drop the biggest hint of how they'll line up, with Iniesta playing centrally in the classic Barcelona trio with Sergio Busquets and Xavi. That could leave room for Juan Mata on the left, while David Silva will probably start on the right. Spain still don't really have an ideal centre-forward, though David Villa will probably be used over Fernando Torres. However, at this stage, this is all pretty much guesswork, with the likes of Pedro and Cesc Fàbregas also competing for a first-choice spot.

It will also be interesting to keep an eye on del Bosque's first choice goalkeeper, with Víctor Valdés likely to start ahead of Iker Casillas. He hasn't been playing as often as usual for Real Madrid this season, albeit partly due to injury.

Player to watch

Andrés Iniesta. Yes, it is unquestionably a boring choice. But Andrés Iniesta has been Spain's star at the last few major tournaments, and always manages to stand out in international matches. An ever-present in del Bosque's teams, he'll be one to watch again.

Prediction

Final. There's been no real evidence at international level to suggest Spain aren't still the best team in the world. They should comfortably cruise through their group, and certainly have the capability to win the entire tournament. The only thing that could stop them is a lack of motivation, particularly if they come up against a Brazil team which should be fired up in front of their home fans.

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