Spain were crowned European Champions this Sunday when they mauled hapless Italy 4-0 in the UEFA Euro 2012 final. Doing this they became the first side in history to successfully defend the European Championship. This was also their third consecutive triumph at a major tournament thus staking a claim to be acknowledged as the greatest national team in football history.
Watching Spain against the others was enjoyable for the craft on display by the likes of Andres Iniesta, not for the spectacle as a whole. The Spanish were easily head and shoulders above the rest. Only Portugal, and to a certain extent Italy, came close to depriving Spain of a hat trick of titles.
It would be appropriate to say that the other European teams did not necessarily boast one of their best teams of the recent past. Germany were the only side that were looking equal to Spain since the start of the tournament. Portugal had 60 goal man Cristiano Ronaldo but not anything much more than that.
With this in mind, Spain are going to be hot favorites to win the World Cup in two years' time. There may still be some teams though that may thwart that achievement by knocking Spain out. Let us start with the list then of the teams who have a good chance of upsetting the odds by sending Spain home during World Cup 2014.
As I mentioned earlier Portugal were the only team to have made Spain earn a victory by striving hard for it. No other team at Euro 2012 was able to do that. Portugal had also given a tough fight to the only other realistic contenders for the title, Germany, in their group game.
In Spain's match against Portugal it was evident that the pace of Portugal on the counter with Nani and Ronaldo was proving a problem for Spain. Portugal had enough chances to win the tie in normal time.
Thus Portugal are one of the teams that could knock Spain out, though Ronaldo being on his game will certainly help. He goes missing in big games too often for anyone's liking.
I guess most remember when Spain could not get through a group containing Portugal, Greece and Russia in Euro 2004. Spain had again disappointed at a big tournament. They were the media's favorite to tag as "Perennial Under-Achievers". Eight years on, all that has changed.
Netherlands have also been hounded by a similar dubious distinction over the years. They did manage to be runners-up at the last edition of the FIFA World Cup and I expect them to stage a similar run in Brazil. On their way they might come across the Spanish juggernaut and I believe they can affect retribution and revenge for their loss in 2010.
The Dutch will most likely still have Robin van Persie, Rafael van der Vaart, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Arjen Robben, Kevin Strootman and most importantly Wesley Sneijder in their squad in Brazil. The attack will be upbeat with ammunition.
It is just the defense that the Oranje need to sort out, and against the Spanish, it will be a must. Why you ask? It is because Spain have not conceded a single goal in a knockout game since they lost to France 3-1 in the round of 16 in 2006. The run spans 10 games—more than 900 minutes.
Brazil are the only side in history to have played in all football World Cups. That in itself is quite an achievement. The other thing that this depicts is that Brazil cannot be taken lightly in any tournament that they are involved in.
If Brazil come up against Spain they will have an added burden or force supporting them, whichever way you want to look at it, in the form of their own home crowd. The pitches will be familiar and Spain can for sure expect a match.
I for one am hoping that I get to see these two sides lock horns at FIFA World Cup 2014. If there is one side that may blow Spain and its style away and reduce it to the fate of a sunken Spanish Armada, it is Brazil.
Uruguay are slowly becoming one of the elite nations of football today. They are the present South American champions and were placed fourth in South Africa during the 2010 edition of the World Cup.
With a forward line of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, Uruguay will be a threat to any side in Brazil, let alone Spain. It is not only the forward line that makes Uruguay such a dangerous team. Their team is very strong and more of a team than a bunch of superstars. Their full-backs and wingers may not let Spain play their game due to their craft and pace.
There will be shortage of teams from South America who will be competing for the title. Uruguay will be one of them and Spain may well be a scalp they will attain on their way to title glory.
I know most of you might think this to be a joke. Well, I am in no mood to be joking right now. Ghana are a serious opposition to face at any tournament at the moment. This national side has all power and pace about its play.
In my opinion, Ghana are a better bet to knock Spain out in two years time than either of France, England or Italy. This is because Spain will not like playing against a physical side like Ghana. Further, Ghana have shown in tournaments that they too have learned the art of grafting when opposition teams are on top at times in the match.
I wanted to pick an underdog in this list of teams that could knock Spain out and I could think of no team other than Ghana better suited to doing this daunting task.
If there is one thing I would want happening at Brazil in two years time, it would have to be Germany tasting success under Joachim Low. The Germans have played great football over the past few years only to be denied by either Spain or Mario Balotelli at the final few hurdles.
The class with which Germany first dispatched England 4-1 and then Argentina 4-0 at the FIFA World Cup 2010 was simply irresistible. I agree that these two teams were hardly at their best but when was the last time any side got a result like that against them.
The Germans are filled with an abundance of talent. The only thing absent might be complacency at times and on others proper execution. Against Italy, Germany were complacent and made mistakes just like they did against Serbia at the World Cup when Milan Jovanovic punished them.
Joachim Low would have wanted Spain at this year's Euro but did not get them. He will unfortunately have to wait until 2014 to seek the revenge he has undoubtedly been craving for.