‘Spain won’t have extra advantage’

Fernando Hierro believes that heading out to Brazil as defending champions will not give Spain any extra advantage this summer.

La Roja are targeting retaining the title they won in South Africa in 2010 and are seen as one of the competition’s favourites once more.

However, for their former captain who served during 2010’s success as sporting director, La Roja will face the same task as the other 31 nations competing.

“It would be a great achievement to retain the World Cup,” began Hierro to reporters this week.

“Obviously there is still a long time to go and many things to happen before the World Cup, but the fact that we are champions will earn the team respect.

“But I always believe that that also does not give you anything extra. There will be some important opponents there.

“Brazil are playing at home with their fans and showed at the Confederations Cup that they can endure great pressure.

“Argentina, Holland, Spain, Italy always, France…it is going to be a tough World Cup for all. It will be an extraordinary World Cup and will be very attractive.”

The Seleccion have been drawn in Group B of the competition against the Netherlands, Chile and Australia and will begin proceedings against the Dutch.

“It is complex. But, it is seen that if we qualify for the knockout phase first in the group then we will not have to face Brazil until the final.

“At a World Cup, when you want to win, from the first round you must face up to some powerful nations. We start the tournament with a game that four years ago was the World Cup Final and always has its appeal.

“Winning that game would fill us with confidence.

“Chile are a difficult mix and if they have a good day then they can complicate matters. Spain have to be optimistic and think that other teams will have the worry of facing the world champions.”

Hierro declined to be drawn on which forwards he would pick for Spain’s squad to head out to Brazil, but reflected on Vicente del Bosque’s likely mindset.

“Del Bosque will have a high percentage of certain names in his head to be at Brazil. You have to let things run their course and we must get to May with all the players in perfect condition.”

Tags Hierro Spain World Cup 2014