Since Argentina´78, Spain had been present in all the FIFA World Cups and in all these tournaments, the Spanish people were very optimitistic and they thought that Spain could win the Cup, but, when the competition started, they realized that Spain wasn´t good enough for winning powerful teams as Germany, Italy, Brazil or Argentina.
Nowadays, the history has changed thanks to the brilliant victory in the last Eurocup (Austria – Switzerland 2008). Actually, the most important bet homes like Bwin, Ladbrokes or WilliamsHill, site Spain like the better option, overtaken teams like Brazil, Argentina, England, Netherlands, Germany, Italy or France.
“Spain is favourite to win the World Cup.” This has been the most repeated slogan from Spanish fans, as the beginning of the World Cup approached. The media encouraged supporters that that time it was possible to dream. Great illusions that vanished to wake from dream.
However, “La Roja” has combined great performances with other disappointing appearances. In Argentina’78 be defeated in group stage, was a disappointment, although it was known that there was no guarantee team because it was thought to reach further. Due to the disappointing competition, the World Cup held in Spain in 1982 sparked optimism because we played at home. Nothing further from the truth. Spain went through many hardships and occasional support rom the referees in the first phase (tie against Honduras because of a dubious penalty, 2-1 victory over Yugoslavia and defeat against Northern Ireland 1-0).
In the second phase, Spain was drawn in a group with West Germany and England. Following the 2-1 defeat by West Germany and the tie between German and English, took place the transcendental match (Spain-England), in which both teams needed a 2-0 to advance to the next phase. Fear could with them and signed a disappointing goalless draw that left both out of the World Cup. Millions of Spanish supporters waked from the dream and surrendered to the evidence.
After the disappointment of Naranjito´s World Cup (the only World Cup mascot that has been a vegetable), was Mexico `86. Spain had managed to assemble a powerful team that two years before had been runner-up in Europe in Francia’84. It began with defeat against Brazil by 0-1, but the feeling that left Spain in that game was exceptional and only the annulment of a legal goal of Michel deprived Spain of a better result.
Far from being intimidated, the “La Furia Roja” took out the anger, and retaliated to Northern Ireland 2-1, and certified his move to the next round with an emphatic 3-0 win over Algeria. People believe in the Spanish team again and although Denmark had made an immaculate group stage (winning all three games) “La Furia Roja ” ate the Danes. Denmark was ahead on the scoreboard at 33´ but Butragueño, shortly before the break, managed to tie the game. In the second half Spain endorsed a final 5-1 in one of the best games that is remembered. In addition, Butragueño passed into history to achieve four goals in the same game.
Given the exceptional result and the game unfolded, rivals such as Argentina and Germany refused to see even a painting of Spain, but it was here where in México’86, where began to take shape “the curse of the quarterfinals”. The next opponent was Begium. 90 minutes ended with a tie, and also the overtime. Pebalty kicks were needed. The Belgian goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, stopped the penalty kick of the Spanish player Eloy Olaya. The dream vanished and began the curse of the quaterfinals.
At Italy `90, the World Cup tournament returned to Europe and Spain had a good team, but not enough to think that was the favourite. But the Spanish public kept their hopes intact after the first stage due to the inaugural tie zero goals against Uruguay, 3-1 victory over South Korea (with hat-trick of Michel), and the sweet revenge for 2 -1 against Belgium, leaving “La Selección” as group winner. In the second round Yugoslavia was the rival, and after a very evenly balanced match, in the final minutes the Balkans were ahead in the 78th minute, but Julito Salinas could draw in 83´. It was the overtime, in the initial instants, when Stojkovic’s masterfully free-throw stuck in Spanish hearts. The illusions of Spain died with the overtime.
In USA `94, and after the disappointment of not being in the Sweden´92 Eurocup, Spain began with a group stage tie against South Korea in February after wasting a comfortably 2-0. The pessimism gripped the fans. The match against the current champion (Germany), was a good game and the final draw was quite good. Spain certified his move to second round with a 3-1 win against Bolivia. In the second round, Switzerland was waiting, and once learned the lesson of Italy´90, “La Roja” jumped convinced to the field, and removed the Swiss watch with three goals. Again the quarterfinals, against Italy, a team which suffer hardship in the first group stage. The match was dominated by Spain, but the Italians went ahead with a D. Baggio great goal in one of the few approaches to the Spanish area. In the second part, Spain managed to tie with a goal by Caminero, and when the Spanish team was the haunting the Italian area, Roberto Baggio beat us on the counterattack. Minutes earlier, Salinas, just in front of the Italian goalkeeper, could have changed history, but the curse of the quarterfinals was present, especially when in the final minutes of the match, the referee did not see a very clear penalty of Tassoti to Luis Enrique, who struck an elbow which left him with a broken nose and bleeding. Spain left the World Cup with an image that left bloody sequels.
In 1998, the World Cup was held in the neighbouring country, France, and had high hopes due to the closeness and a desire to prove to everyone that Spain came out of the last World Cup unfairly. It began with a painful 3-2 defeat against Nigeria, with an own-goal of the goalkeeper Zubizarreta, and in the second game, “The Red” was not able to penetrate the goal of the paraguayan Chilavert. In the day 3, Spain steamrolled Bulgaria 6-1, but Paraguay beat 3-1Nigeria. Spain was eliminated from the World Cup in the first round. This is one of the biggest disappointment in many years.
After the French World Cup debacle, there was a renewal of the coaching staff and the players, and a combative Jose Antonio Camacho gave to the Spanish team their innate claw and “La Roja” became a very combative team. Spain won all three games of the first phase (3-1 against Slovenia, also 3-1 against Paraguay and 3-2 to South Africa). In the next round, Ireland awaited and although Morientes ahead Spain in the early minutes, in the final minutes a penalty allowed the Irish to take the match into overtime. We had to decide the pass with the penalty kicks, where Mendieta took third kick against the only 2 goals of the Irish. Spain again in the quarterfinals.
The surprising rival was South Korea, which took Italy apart with a lot of controversy (thus avoiding the Spain-Italy expected by many people). The referees had clearly favoured the host team and began to prowl the doubts of arbitral justice. Unfortunately, the omens were fulfilled, and the Egyptian referee Al-Ghandour and his linemen deprived of at least two illustrious Spanish goals. The match ended with 0-0, like the overtime and the fate of the penaltys gave back again to Spain. Joaquín missed the final penalty leaving without semifinals to a team that deserved them “The Curse of the quaterfinals” serving again his cruel presence.
The World Cup Alemania’06 started very well for the Spanish team, with an emphatic 4-0 victory against Ukraine, causing euphoria displayed by the great game. Suffering subsequently, Spain won in the last minutes toTunisia (3-1), and defeated Saudi Arabia in the last match of the first phase (1-0), although Spain was already classified. In the second round we faced France (who had been second of group), and even though Spain was ahead in the scoring through a penalty converted by Villa, France equalized just before the breaktime via Ribéry. The second half was very even, but with the passage of minutes the French midfielders were winning to the Spanish, but without specifying the chances. After a free-kick (which did not exist, since Henry was the one who intentionally collided with Puyol), Vieira became 2-1. In extratime, Zidane put the lace off with the final 3-1. Spain returned home even before reaching the quarterfinals.
As we can see, the performances of Spain in the last World Cup, has interspersed great performances (México’86, USA’94, Korea-Japan ’02), with major disappointments (Italia’90, Francia’98, Alemania’06), so logic says that this year “La Roja” will play a great performance especially as Spain has succeeded in breaking the curse of the quarter-finals and penaltys, thanks to the title won last Euro 2008. This new talented generation of Spanish players, no longer afraid of the quarterfinals are born winners and they are today, not only the best selection according to the FIFA ranking, but also the favorite for many.
With a goal more than safe with Casillas (for many football experts the best goalkeeper in the world), a defence of guarantees with Puyol, Piqué, Arbeloa, Capdevila, some midfielders envied by many selections such as Xavi, Silva, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta, Cesc and a devastating forward with Torres and Villa, Spain has, according to experts, the best “Selección” which reminds anyone in many, many years. In addition, players are aware of their possibilities, and have in mind that there need also be lucky at specific moments to be World Cup champion, and that no match will be easy, and must be maintained at 100% concentration. Aptitude and attitude necessary for a champion team.
For the first time in history, “La Roja” is a favourite outside our borders and this is reflected in the world betting, due to the fact that the favourite for winning this World Cup is for many bet homes, Spain, ahead Brazil, Argentina and England.
This time, more than ever, THE SPANISH DREAM IS POSSIBLE!