Spain World Cup 2014 profile: Vicente del Bosque's men one of the favourites

Defending champions will be one of the favourites despite calls of decline

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The Independent Online

The reigning World Champions come into the tournament in fine form, having only lost once since their defeat in the Confederations Cup to hosts Brazil.

Vicente del Bosque’s men breezed through qualification, going unbeaten to top Group I ahead of France. Their defeat to South Africa last November featured a pretty strong XI, but Del Bosque enters this competition knowing his team will be one of the favourites.

The Spaniards won both of their warm-up matches 2-0, beating Bolivia in Seville and El Salvador in the US, but their main concern has been the fitness of star striker Diego Costa.

Costa scored 35 goals for Atletico Madrid last season but has been struggling with a hamstring injury since the beginning of May, although he says he has recovered.

Del Bosque did start Fernando Torres in the first warm-up match, and he scored from the spot, but he may opt for a striker-less formation in a daunting opener against the Netherlands.

That game is a repeat of the violent final from four years ago and Spain will want at least a draw. Chile will pose another problem – the Spaniards needed a 92nd minute goal to earn a 2-2 draw against the dangerous South Americans.

Some onlookers have said Spain are a nation in decline, but they will be targeting at least a semi-final berth.