World Cup 2010 Predictions: Spain's Depth Gives Them Strong Edge in Tourament

Sean Hartnett@HartnettWFANCorrespondent IJune 16, 2010

POTCHEFSTROOM, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 12:  Carles Puyol (3rd L) of Spain jokes with David Villa (3rd R) pushing him aside while running amid their teammates Gerard Pique (L), Cesc Fabregas (2nd L), Jesus Navas (2nd R) and others during a training session on June 12, 2010 in Potchefstroom, South Africa.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Reigning European champions Spain boast an array of talent at every position.  It's little wonder why they were so dominant during Euro 2008 and were able to match Brazil's undefeated run of 35 games.

If you were to browse through the rosters of this World Cup's contenders, Spain sticks out as you would be hard-pressed to find a weakness.  At every position there are quality backups who are capable of stepping in and doing the job.

Many consider Iker Casillas the world's top keeper, as his performances were key to Spain winning Euro 2008.  If he were to go down injured, they easily boast the best backup keeper of World Cup participants in Pepe Reina.  The Liverpool net-minder's play has been as consistent as any player at his position in the world.  Even Victor Valdés would start for almost any other country as he's helped Barcelona to an assortment of trophies over the past few seasons.

The rock-solid Barca duo of Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué are the stingiest of centre-backs.  The experienced Carlos Marchena and Raúl Albiol provide very capable deputies.  Spain boasts two wing-backs who are terrific at going forward with Joan Capdevila on the left and Sergio Ramos on the right.  The versatile Álvaro Arbeloa is equally adept at playing on either side and is equally talented at going forward or defending.

Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta pull the strings for Barcelona's wonderful attacking displays.  Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso loves to operate behind them and might be the best long-passer in world football.  Cesc Fàbregas has been chased by Barca all summer and has become one of the best midfielders in the Premier League while playing for Arsenal.

Backup Javi Martínez operates in a similar fashion to Alonso and defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets is a powerful enforcer.  Valencia's tricky wingers David Silva and Juan Mata are also coveted by many top clubs in Europe.  Jesús Navas is one of La Liga's rising stars and the winger scored in Sevilla's Copa del Rey triumph.

"La Furia Roja" possess the world's most fearsome striking partnership in Fernando Torres and David Villa.  Torres is possibly the most threatening and complete striker in all of Europe but a multitude of injuries kept him from having success at club level.  When he was able to play for Liverpool, Torres actually had an improved goalscoring ratio than his previous season.

Villa is as sure-firing as any striker imaginable.  His totals for his national team are even more impressive.  He won the golden boot at Euro 2008 and has a strong chance at doing the same in South Africa.  Villa is able to lead the line alone if injury issues re-appear for Torres.

Powerhouse striker Fernando Llorente had a terrific season for Athletic Bilbao and offers something different than Torres or Villa with his height.  Barcelona's Pedro Rodríguez can play in almost any attacking role and has a knack of scoring long-range goals.

Given this evidence, it's difficult to find a hole in the 23-man squad selected by manager Vicente del Bosque.  His squad is capable of playing many different styles of football thanks to the completeness of this group of players.  Most impressive though is their ability to play a lightning-quick style with their team speed and short passing skill.  If needed, Spain has the steel to play the physical game and the dazzling wingers to play out of wide.

Goals will certainly not be a problem as Villa and Torres are automatic.  Alonso and Fàbregas have been known to score long-distance strikes.  Xavi and Iniesta are able to dictate the pace of the game with their almost effortless passing.  Puyol and Piqué are an intimidating duo and behind them is the safe hands of the man Spanish supporters call "Saint Iker."

The Euro 2008 triumph ended Spain's 44-year major title drought and removed the tag of under-achievers.  The closest the country has even come to lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy was in 1950 when they finished fourth. 

To be crowned World Cup champions would confirm this group's place in the pantheon of dominant national teams and make their stars even greater idols in world football.  "La Furia Roja" is well-equipped to accomplish the great task.