Spain welcomes draw, not potential knockout foe
European champion Spain welcomed its draw for next year’s World Cup. What it didn’t like were the teams that likely await it after the group stage.
Spain drew one of the easiest groups on Friday, getting Switzerland, Chile and Honduras for next year’s finals in South Africa.
But if the Spaniards advance from Group H, they will likely face Brazil, Portugal or the Ivory Coast in the second round. Brazil is the favorite to win its sixth World Cup.
“Of all the teams we could have come across we haven’t done too badly, but it’s further along that things get complicated,” Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas said.
Spain, which has never won the World Cup, is one of the favorites going into the competition which has left coach Vicente del Bosque sounding a warning.
“I don’t want to think about anything beyond the group,” Del Bosque said from the draw in Cape Town. “It would be gravely irresponsible of me to start thinking about who we might meet without having qualified out of the group stage.
“Every rival we meet is going to be difficult.”
Casillas said Chile looked like the toughest opponent due to their tough South American qualifying group, but the Real Madrid goalkeeper and team captain preferred not to look to far ahead.
“Some of the favorites include Spain but sometimes praise and expectation weaken you,” Casillas said. “We are virgins in the World Cup. I feel some envy toward (Brazilian Real Madrid teammate) Kaka who has savored what it is to belong to a nation that has won the championship.”
The draw did throw up one change of plans. Spain will likely base itself closer to Johannesburg since it will play one of its group matches in the capital and another nearby.
Spain plays Honduras in Johannesburg on June 21 before closing against Chile in Pretoria on June 25. It opens against Switzerland in Durban on June 16.
Del Bosque also said that Spain’s late start offered an extra advantage.
“We have more days to rest up after the end of the league, which will suit us very well,” Del Bosque said.
The Spanish league season ends on May 16.