Spain: Why They Could Come Unstuck at World Cup 2014
Spain finished 2012 ranked No. 1 in world football for the fifth consecutive year. There is no denying that a dynasty has been created, but that does not mean that the Spaniards are unbeatable.
Though La Roja may be the best around, they have weaknesses like any other team.
It is unlikely to think that the ferocious Spanish side will be bested anytime soon. But there are some glaring issues that manager Vicente del Bosque will need to address rather quickly as the World Cup is roughly one year away.
In this article, we will take a look at the reasons why La Roja could be taken down at World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
The Ages of Important Leaders
After being crowned the best around for five straight years, longevity is no longer an issue for Spain. The national side continues to produce brilliance with no signs of slowing down.
However, the squad that brought the international scene to its feet these past few years may look a bit different when the World Cup rolls around. There are some very key players for La Roja who will have to deal with battling age.
Established leaders such as Xavi will be well past the age of 30 when the beautiful tournament finally arrives, and that is an issue that will be very important to factor into the squad.
Xavi himself has spoken on his hopes to play in 2014, but is aware that it will be up to Vicente del Bosque as he will be 34 when the tournament arrives (via FIFA).
But there are several other stars who will be facing the important fight to be in the squad while battling with age.
Carles Puyol will be an astonishing 36 years old by next summer and is likely to miss the World Cup as his injuries continue to occur. Captain Iker Casillas will be 33 years of age, but as a goalkeeper, age should not harm his production too much.
Xabi Alonso and David Villa will both be 32 when the World Cup begins, and their production will likely begin to slowly dwindle.
It is clear that Del Bosque will need to strengthen the squad as some of his stars may face issues with fatigue.
Lack of a Pure Striker
The days of Fernando Torres and David Villa are long gone. Though Villa may still hold an important role in the squad, Torres has certainly seen the last of his contribution to La Roja.
Without a traditional striker to lead the attack, Vicente Del Bosque opted to use a "false nine" like that of Barcelona. Instead of Lionel Messi playing in the center of the attack, the role was handed to Cesc Fábregas.
Though this tactic worked and helped Spain to lift the Euro 2012 trophy, it could also be their downfall.
On many occasions during the Euros and during World Cup Qualifying, Spain has reverted to using the false nine, and it appears as though that may be where the future lies.
Though La Roja will dominate possession with six midfielders in attack, the presence of a solidified striker will be missed when chances go awry. David Villa may be the key to the attack, but even now questions can be asked about his future with Spain.
If La Roja continue to utilize the false nine it will be important to alter the attack in such a way that allows for more scoring opportunities. If not, the brilliant tactic may just collapse the beast that is Spain.
Defensive Depth Is a Problem
The dominance of Spain runs much deeper than the national team. The youth sides are also showing tremendous ability, as it appears La Roja will boast greatness for the next few decades.
However, for all of the youth and depth that Spain has, defenders seem to be hard to come by.
The Spanish back line proves to be one of the best in the world when everyone is fit. But when players are missing, the defense often looks suspect.
Players like Raul Albiol, while very talented, are not at the level that Spain requires to field alongside the rest of the world-class stars. But there is a serious lack of defensive experience on the bench.
And with a lack of solid youth defenders, Del Bosque has had to resort to using defensive midfielders such as Sergio Busquets and Javi Martinez in the back line.
While these stars are among the best in the world at their positions, they are certainly not as sharp when playing in the actual defense.
La Roja will be hoping that the squad stays healthy for sure, but the lack of death may certainly be the biggest worry.
Spain does have time to find replacements as the World Cup is over one year away. Rising stars such as Martin Montoya and Inigo Martinez may prove to be key.
One-Goal Thrillers and Lack of Scoring
One of the most glaring problems that Spain will have to overcome is that of their low scoring, which is characterized by their many games of scoring only one goal.
When Spain won the World Cup in 2010, winning one-goal thrillers was their style. In the last four games of the famous tournament, La Roja won every game by a score of 1-0.
But if that was not enough, the low scoring continued in the Euros this past summer.
On the road to repeating as champions, Spain scored one goal against Italy and Croatia. But La Roja did not score against Portugal, which led the teams to a shootout.
Even today the low scoring continues as Spain was recently shocked in a 1-1 draw with France due to a late goal by Olivier Giroud.
More scoring must come for La Roja if they are to repeat in 2014. But even more so, Spain will have to learn how to put games away.
Low scoring and games played to 1-0 may be working now, but if an opponent can capitalize, we may see Spain finally taken down.
While all of these issues could bring the collapse of Spain from the top of the world football mountain, it is still likely that La Roja will win World Cup 2014. Issues must be addressed, but to this point everything is going right for Spain.
Can these issues bring about Spain’s demise in World Cup 2014? Are there any other issues that need to be addressed? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.