It’s a good time to be a Spanish soccer fan. The national team are reigning World Cup and European champs, but they sit at just 6-1 in World Cup futures betting to repeat as champions, trailing hosts Brazil as well as Argentina and Germany.
Spain has drawn into a difficult Group B alongside long-shot Australia, dark-horse Chile and Netherlands, the team they needed extra time to beat to claim their first World Cup title in 2010.
Spain, 20-27 favorites to win Group B, open their World Cup schedule with a rematch against the Dutch, who sit at 5-2 to win the group. Chile has odds of 7-2 to finish atop Group B.
While Spain clearly has the talent and experience to win Group B, a second-place finish could spell trouble, likely leading to a showdown with host Brazil in the round of 16.
Overall, Spain have played well since the 2010 World Cup. In addition to capturing the 2012 Euro Cup, Spain reached the final of the 2013 Confederations Cup and currently sit at No. 1 in FIFA’s World Rankings.
But when the Spanish have lost, it has been against national sides who could challenge them at this year’s tourney.
Spain’s Confederation Cup loss came against Brazil, who sit as comfortable 3-1 favorites to win their sixth World Cup title. They have also dropped friendlies against Argentina, Portugal, Italy and England, and they failed to record a victory at the 2012 London Olympics, suffering group-stage defeats at the hands of Japan and Honduras.
Despite these setbacks, Spain remain a serious threat to repeat at Brazil 2014. Among the many players who starred for Spain at the 2010 World Cup, midfielder Andres Iniesta will be looked to for leadership.
Not only was Iniesta named Man of the Match after scoring the winning goal for Spain in the final at the 2010 World Cup, he was also named Player of the Tournament at the 2012 Euro. Simply put, the bigger the stage, the better Iniesta performs.
Spanish fans are also hopeful that Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa will be ready for World Cup action. The 25-year-old is recovering from a lingering thigh injury that limited him to just eight minutes on the pitch during the recent Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Regardless, Costa sits just below the favorites in props wagering, with odds of 25-1 to be top goalscorer in the tournament. Spanish striker David Villa, who tied for the most goals scored at the 2010 World Cup with five, sits at 50-1.
Spain opens June 13 as surprisingly strong favorites against the Dutch.