Before the draw, Vicente Del Bosque said he was keen to avoid Chile but also added that he had no real preferences. The papers ran pieces on what would be the easiest passage to the final but also stressed that things could go the other way. The country was optimistic, but in the end Spain ended up in a group that has been dubbed as one of the three ‘Groups of Death’.
The first problem came with the allocation of groups. Spain got Group B but it was Group A that was worrying fans. It is possible that La Roja could face Brazil in the final 16 should things not go to script for either side. Then came the first rival – Chile. Del Bosque said later he was keen to avoid them because ‘their style made things complicated and uncomfortable for rivals.’
Next out was Australia and the Spanish commentators did not hide their pleasure at getting the Socceroos, but then things took a turn when the final team came out of the hat – Holland. They will face Spain in their first match of the group and it is the first time that two finalists from a previous World Cup will meet each other in their first game of a current one. The reaction to the draw has been mixed.
TV station Cuatro was quick to declare Spain were in the ‘Group of Death’. Suddenly they were talking about La Roja, a team that has won the last two European Championships and are the reigning World Champions, as if they were minnows. Jose Antonio Camacho, who led the national side in the 2002 World Cup, claimed the Spain- Holland tie ‘devalued’ the tournament. AS and Marca were quick to jump on the bandwagon, with AS claiming ‘Spain have a lethal group’ and Marca chiming in with ‘Dangerous group for La Roja’. Yet, not everyone is running for the hills screaming.
AS journalist Inako Diaz-Guerra isn’t known for keeping his opinions to himself and just minutes after the draw he took to Twitter to say, ‘After One World Cup and Two European Championships, we still start crying beforehand.’ Former Spanish international Kiko said that at a World Cup these things are to be expected, and several current players have come out and admitted that although the group is tough, they are confident.
Del Bosque said shortly after the draw that he felt that there were worse groups and he had a feeling he would get Holland. He admitted that possibly getting Brazil in the next round was worrying but that if Spain wanted to win, they had to beat the best.
It is not all doom and gloom. The RFEF had wanted to be based in Curitiba, away from the heat for the group stages and as many knockout stage games as possible. Now that will happen and Del Bosque admitted he was happy that they would be playing in a cooler climate. So, there it at least one positive for La Roja as they face a tough challenge from day one to retain the World Cup.