What Do Spain Need to Change to Have a Successful World Cup?

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2014

COSTA DO SAUIPE, BRAZIL - DECEMBER 06:  Spain coach Vicente del Bosque holds the World Cup trophy  on stage before the Final Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at Costa do Sauipe Resort on December 6, 2013 in Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

No team from the European continent has ever won the World Cup in South America, so the size of the task facing Spain in Brazil is huge. Why that is the case is difficult to ascertain, but climate conditions certainly don't help.

Spain are the reigning world champions and won back-to-back European titles. The majority of the squad are still together, while there are multiple young talents emerging from the youth ranks.

In terms of a natural cycle, Spain are stretching it slightly, as it's six years since they claimed the European Championship in Austria.

They have the ability to become only the third country, after Italy and Brazil, to successfully defend a World Cup, but they need to make a couple of alterations to ensure that happens.

There's nothing wrong with Spain's overall philosophy; the notion of a "plan B" is often overplayed. It's subtle variations of the main system that need to take place.

Luis Aragones opted for the passing and progressive style that we see today in manager Vicente del Bosque's team, and this has been aided further by a large selection of personnel coming through the ranks of Barcelona.

The familiarity of these players is an advantage that Spain has upheld over rival countries in recent years and shouldn't be underestimated given the short amount of time managers get to work with their national sides.

Though this, of course, needs to be weighed against the fact that those Barcelona players are less dominant than they were in previous tournaments.

Come Back to What You Know

The first change is to return to the key dynamics of what made the country so triumphant in the first place—quality ball retention, while displaying high pressing and high energy when attempting to win the ball back.

Like Barcelona, this hasn't always taken place as effectively as it has in the past. This is the strength of the Spanish game; to do anything different would be counterproductive.

Move to One Holding Midfielder

Del Bosque likes to use both Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets to shield the defence, but this can lead to sterile possession with not enough runners off the ball.

Having two holders does give the full-backs added freedom to get forward, though, it's a little pointless when your right-back, Alvaro Arbeloa, is not as comfortable higher up the pitch.

While the Real Madrid man may not feature, it's still more advantageous to play a more mobile midfielder alongside a natural sitter.

More Penetration

One of La Roja's previous problems was the lack of forward movement past the opposition's defensive walls. Too often they had the ball in harmless areas of the field.

Quicker and more direct players were more likely to appear from the bench, but starting them gives opponents' defences a dilemma of whether to push up or sit deep.

Adapt the Formation to Suit the Opposition

The 4-3-3 formation is the tried and tested structure of the Spanish national side. In the majority of games, it's suitable to be lined up in this way.

Though, it is worth adjusting the formation to counter the strengths of the opposition and expose any weaknesses. This will also surprise the managers that have been watching countless videos of the team's setup.

The Use of a Striker

Cesc Fabregas started a number of games in Euro 2012 as a "false nine." This, of course, was effective in some games but less so in others, via Zonal Marking.

This had as much to do with the less than prolific options at Del Bosque's disposal than it did his preferred method up front.

With the form of Diego Costa and Alvaro Negredo, they have two physically imposing strikers that fit within the approach while simultaneously offering something a little bit different.