World Cup group opponents Spain: Showdown against “La Roja”

Magazine, 25.11.2022

The star of Germany's World Cup group opponents Spain shines brightly. The southern Europeans are among the favourites after a convincing start to their World Cup campaign. ERGO takes a look at Germany’s World Cup group opponents in a three-part series.

Spanish National Team 

Even before Germany’s opening-game defeat, Spain were always going to be a tough draw for the German team. Since 1988, Germany has been waiting for a victory against the Iberians at a World Cup or European Championship finals. And even the odd good result in friendly matches between the two nations in recent years does not change this. It was just two years ago that the 6-0 defeat in the group phase of the Nations League marked a low point in the “Löw era”. Hansi Flick definitely needs to prepare his team well for the second group match against Germany’s nemesis from southern Europe. Otherwise, after the bitter defeat in the European Championship final in 2008 and the 1-0 loss in the World Cup semi-final in 2010, the next failure against Spain threatens. Defeat would almost definitely spell the end of Germany’s World Cup campaign.

Three major titles in four years

A look back: The golden years for Spain began with the European Championship title in 2008, catapulting “La Roja” to number one in FIFA’s world rankings for the first time. In the final, the Selección defeated Germany 1-0 with a goal from Fernando Torres. David Villa finished the tournament as top scorer.

Two years later: In a World Cup final with seven yellow cards and one yellow-red card for the Dutch, and five yellow cards for the Spanish, the Iberians showed the better football for long stretches, but were only able to score the 1-0 winner in the 116th minute. The winning goal was scored by the outstanding midfielder cum winger Andrés Iniesta. Spain had won the World Cup trophy for the first time. Iker Casillas received the Golden Glove for the best goalkeeper. David Villa was named third-best player.

In 2012, things continued without a hitch. At the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, the Iberians became the first team to defend their title, making them the first European team to win three titles in a row. Twelve players remained from the 2008 squad. Iniesta was named the best player of the tournament and ten Spaniards were named in the all-star team. After that, things became quieter for the national team, with many players only able to be influential at club level. The next three tournaments ended in early exits for the Spaniards.

With young super talents to the next title?

But now Spain’s form is back on an upward curve, despite the odd setback. The German team can expect to face absolute star power. With young super talents like the 19-year-old Pedri or 17-year-old Gavi, both under contract with FC Barcelona, coach Luis Enrique will send one of the best midfield formations in Europe onto the pitch. Young and unpredictable are also the attackers Ferran Torres of FC Barcelona and Dani Olmo of RB Leipzig, while experienced Juventus striker Alvaro Morata and Pablo Sarabia of Sporting Lisbon have proven their scoring prowess often enough. With the defensive frailties of recent years seemingly a thing of the past, Spain go into the game against Germany as clear favourites.

(Text: Martin Sulkowsky / Lothar Grimm)

ERGO portrays the national team's World Cup group opponents in a three-part series.

Part 1 - World Cup group opponents Japan

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