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The contenders: Spain

Spain's midfielder Xabi Alonso (L) celebrates with teammate

Spain's midfielder Xabi Alonso (L) celebrates with teammate Spain's forward Pedro Rodriguez after scoring against Poland. (June 8, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

We've stumbled into the cream of the crop in FIFA's top-ranked teams with the first of two teams that are a cut above the rest.

We've already previewed: 9) France | 8) England | 7) Argentina | 6) Germany | 5) Italy | 4) Netherlands | 3) Portugal

Like the Dutch, the next team on our list is one of the best teams to have never won the World Cup. With the ridiculous talent it's assembled in 2010, it could do just that:


Group: H - Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

World Cup history: 0 titles; Spain has qualified for its ninth straight tournament, but it's never advanced past the quarterfinals in that span. It's best result was a fourth-place finish in 1950, when only 13 teams played.

5 key players: Xavi (Barcelona), Fernando Torres (Liverpool), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), David Villa (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona)

>> Read about Spain's bevy of stars and other players to watch at the 2010 World Cup

Coach: Vincente del Bosque

Outlook: The European champions are currently the favorites to win the World Cup. The team is built on the skills of their midfielders, which include world class play makers Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso and David Silva with Fabregas, the Arsenal captain, coming off the bench.

Coach Vicente del Bosque will either use a 4-4-2 which would feature world class strikers David Villa and Fernando Torres atop, or he can can switch to a 4-5-1 with Jesus Navas tearing up the right wing. This will be dependent on Torres' health, who has been battling a knee injury all year in the EPL.

Spain's weakness will be on defense. Their only recent loss came at the hands of the U.S. in last summer's Confederations Cup, who knew how to exploit Spain's overeager backs, Sergio Ramos and Carles Puyol, who tend to push deep into the opposing team's penalty box. Spain's defense will have more of an impact on it's success than Villa's or Torres' ability to score.

Prediction: Spain has an relatively easy opening group. I expect them to score nine points win comfortably in all three matches.

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), José Manuel Reina (Liverpool), Víctor Valdés (Barcelona)

Defenders: Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Xavi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Cesc Fábregas (Arsenal), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), Javi Martínez (Athletic Club), Xavi Hernández (Barcelona)

Forwards: David Jiménez Silva (Valencia), Jesus Navas González (Sevilla), Juan Manuel Mata (Valencia), Pedro Rodríguez (Barcelona), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Club), Fernando Torres (Liverpool), David Villa (Valencia)


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