Spain have been imperious for the last three major international tournaments having won the 2010 World Cup and each of the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.
A 3-0 dismantling at the hands of Brazil in the Confederations Cup final, coupled with the murmurs that this South American climate will favour local teams, has put chinks in the armour of the world champions but make no mistake, the Spanish won’t be happy with anything but a win and nobody would bet against them at least reaching the final four.
With this in mind, we were able to get the opinions of Tom Parfitt (@tparf) on some Manchester United related issues regarding this Spain squad.
Do Spain see De Gea as a capable long term replacement for Casillas?
Marca suggested as much last month. Apparently – and they’ve been known to stretch the truth – Vicente Del Bosque sees him as “a perfect replacement”, having won titles at youth level. Travelling to Brazil will help him to grow further. So for me, that doesn’t sound too far off the mark.
Can you see De Gea getting any match experience at the World Cup?
No, not unless Casillas is injured or suspended. He only made his debut last week, as a substitute against El Salvador. Reina started that game despite an indifferent season at Napoli, so it’s not even clear whether De Gea will be second or third choice.
How heavily is Juan Mata likely to feature?
Again, I can’t see him starting at all. For many reasons – see my Republik of Mancunia preview – it was a surprise that he even made the 23. That midfield three picks itself, so he’s become reigned – at least in big games – to late substitute appearances for Iniesta or Silva or Pedro.
Do you believe Spain can retain their World Cup crown?
As long as Del Bosque picks the right striker. On form alone it should be Costa, but he’s loyal to Torres and Villa; there’s also the false nine dilemma. I can’t see any weaknesses in the defence – they didn’t concede a single knockout goal in 2008, 2010, and 2012 – or midfield.