Spain heavyweights upbeat on World Cup defence

Captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, centre back Sergio Ramos, midfielder Xabi Alonso and forward David Villa all sounded an upbeat note at the unveiling of the all-red kit the world and European champions’ will wear at the finals.


Casillas said Spain were determined “to make history again” after securing their maiden World Cup in South Africa in 2010, while Villa insisted “La Roja” had the talent to become only the third country to retain their world crown after Italy in 1938 and Brazil in 1962.

“Our national team is feeling full of confidence, with a great deal of desire,” Ramos said.

“We managed it before and who’s to say we cannot repeat that success,” added the Real Madrid defender.

“We cannot live on past achievements, there is no point dwelling on them, instead we want to repeat them.”

Spain finished top of their qualifying group ahead of France with six wins and two draws from their eight matches and will be one of the favourites next year along with the hosts and the likes of Argentina and Germany.

Vicente del Bosque’s men play Equatorial Guinea in the West African nation’s capital Malabo on Saturday and three days later take on South Africa at Soccer City in Johannesburg, scene of their World Cup triumph three years ago.

Del Bosque has a number of regulars missing, including playmakers Xavi and Cesc Fabregas and centre back Gerard Pique, while Pique’s Barcelona team mate Marc Bartra, also a central defender, has been called into the squad for the first time.

Alonso is making his return to international action after a five-month injury layoff that sidelined him for June’s Confederations Cup, when Spain reached the final but were beaten 3-0 by hosts Brazil.

“Not having taken part in the Confederations Cup means you experience it in a different way with a feeling of impotence,” Alonso said. “Now I am raring to go.”

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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