Ranking Spain's Greatest World Cup Strikers

Rik Sharma@@riksharma_Featured ColumnistJune 15, 2014

Fernando Torres is not one of Spain's best World Cup strikers.
Fernando Torres is not one of Spain's best World Cup strikers.Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Spain strikers that played against the Netherlands aren't likely to come top of any World Cup rankings.

Fernando Torres is miserably out of sorts; his miss late on in the game on Friday night was typical of his malaise.

Diego Costa, meanwhile, while in good form this season, has travelled to the World Cup in search of fitness, never a good idea.

While the Atletico Madrid striker might not be able to take this tournament by storm, the potential exists for him to impress at Russia 2018 when he will be 29.

Costa has a long way to go.
Costa has a long way to go.Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

Cesc Fabregas isn't really a forward and has never had the chance to thrive in that role for Spain at a World Cup.

The other forward in this squad... David Villa. Now there's a real World Cup striker.

Perhaps the Atletico man was included by Vicente del Bosque this time around for his accomplishment in 2010 when he netted five goals, as many as any other player in the tournament.

Villa was a key player on Spain's run to the final, which they eventually won against the Netherlands.

As such, he automatically deserves to be considered one of Spain's greatest World Cup strikers.

After a disappointing opening game against Switzerland, which ended in a 1-0 defeat, Spain hit the ground running in the second match.

Villa struck twice against Honduras to put Spain's first three points on the board.

David Villa is Spain's best World Cup striker.
David Villa is Spain's best World Cup striker.Claudio Cruz/Associated Press

One of the goals was a magnificent solo effort, featuring a brilliant dribble on the left before he cut inside and fired into the top-right corner.

Villa was on target again in the next game, the 2-1 win over Chile which secured Spain's progress to the next round.

It was that man again who made the difference in the last 16 against Portugal.

Receiving Xavi's cute backheel, Villa saw his first strike blocked by the goalkeeper.

He reacted quickly and fired home, the goal which decided the match.

Villa's next and last goal in the tournament came against Paraguay in the quarter-final.

He saw Pedro's strike hit the post, collected the rebound and fired it in, off the upright as well, with just a few minutes to go.

Villa did not score but did start the semi-final and final, both 1-0 wins as Spain went on to lift the World Cup for the first time in their history.

But just as not having a national team which could achieve anything should not rule Ryan Giggs out from being named as one of the best players of all time, there are a few other Spain strikers that deserve credit for their individual performances in the jersey of La Roja.

Raul and Fernando Morientes are two Spanish strikers that will forever be remembered, with the former arguably the greatest in the country's history.

Raul was great but couldn't power Spain to glory.
Raul was great but couldn't power Spain to glory.ARMANDO FRANCA/Associated Press

They never had much success at the World Cup, but the pair were on good form in the group stage in 2002.

Raul scored three times and Morientes twice before they took on Ireland in the semi-final when the latter netted his third of the campaign.

Morientes ludicrously had a goal ruled out in a controversial quarter-final clash with South Korea, which finished 0-0.

Spain were knocked out on penalties, but Morientes' goal should have taken them through to the semi-finals.

Another great World Cup striker could have been born, but poor officiating prevented that from happening.

When Spain reached the quarter-finals in 1994, the lone striker they played, Julio Salinas, only scored once.

He was a fine forward but never showed it during the World Cup.

Julio Salinas never showed his best at a World Cup.
Julio Salinas never showed his best at a World Cup.SANTIAGO LYON/Associated Press

Emilio Butragueno was a different story, and he struck once in the 1986 World Cup group stage before battering four past Denmark in the last 16.

He scored from the spot in the penalty shootout against Belgium in the quarter-final, but Spain went out 4-5 in the end after a 1-1 draw.

There are plenty of other fantastic strikers who played for Spain.

Telmo Zarra scored 20 goals in 20 appearances for La Roja while Alfredo Di Stefano put in 23 goals in 31 matches.

But at the World Cup, none can match David Villa.