Defending champions Spain leave for Brazil optimistic about their chances of a repeat triumph and undaunted by Friday’s opening game against the Netherlands in a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final.
“We don’t have any fear, but we do have respect,” Spain manager Vicente del Bosque said. “They are the runner-ups from the last World Cup, so we have full respect for the Netherlands.”
After the Spaniards kickoff their World Cup Group B campaign on Friday against the Netherlands in the flashback to their stormy final four years ago, they face Chile and Australia in later group matches.
“We’re very optimistic after our training and two friendly matches,” Del Bosque said. “We are meeting our expectations. We are confident heading into the World Cup.”
Del Bosque also said injuries which have sidelined stars such as France’s Franck Ribery and Colombia’s Radamel Falcao would not detract from the World Cup.
“A couple of world stars are not going to be at the World Cup, but I don’t think because of that the World Cup is going to be less attractive,” he said. “That’s not going to diminish the World Cup from being a great event.”
David Villa, Spain’s all-time leading scorer, lifted his total to 58 with two goals to give his side a 2-0 win over El Salvador on Saturday.
Coming into Brazil as defending champions brings only a sense of pride for Spain, now the target for 31 rivals trying to dethrone them.
“It’s important, but it doesn’t give you any advantage or something like that,” Villa said. “I’m proud of having done it and [I’m going] to work to try to repeat it.”
Del Bosque saw some areas he wanted to improve upon after the El Salvador match, as his rivals played a defensive style that it took until the 60th minute for Spain to crack open.
“We need to have better creativity, be able to have better chances in the attacking third,” Del Bosque said. “We always want to be on the attack and to control the pace of the game.”
Spain do not expect defensive-minded tactics from their World Cup foes, but Del Bosque said the victory shows the players are ready to overcome it if necessary.
“That’s not what we expect in the World Cup, but if we do see that, we’re always looking to find space, and make the initiative and be attacking the ball,” he said.
One area that drew top marks from Del Bosque was the defense.
“We worked well as a defensive group, considering we haven’t had a lot of work with the whole group,” Del Bosque said.