Spain stalwarts not finished yet, says Del Bosque
Slavador, Brazil: Spain coach Vincente del Bosque fired an ominous warning on Thursday to any critics suggesting the dominance of his world and European champions could be about to end.
Spain arrived in Brazil with 16 players retained from the squad that triumphed in South Africa, the most returning to the next tournament of any world champions, with some suggesting the influence of thirty-something key men like Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Iker Casillas may be waning.
Speaking on the eve of their title defence, which starts in Brazil`s Salvador against the Netherlands on Friday, Del Bosque said his squad were not here for past achievements but for what they could do now.
"I am not afraid of the future," he told reporters.
"We have an under-21 squad who are recent European champions, we have 30 percent new players compared to 2010. We have seen this generation of players emulated by the younger players, so there`s certainly a bright future."
Del Bosque said his side had prepared well for the clash with the Dutch, a repeat of the 2010 World Cup final which Spain won with an Iniesta extra-time goal, but refused to give any hints about his starting line-up.
The 34-year-old Xavi, an instrumental figure in Spain`s success as part of a midfield whose slick passing style starves opposition of possession, said he believed those tactics were now embedded in the Spanish camp and unlikely to change.
"All our players have adapted to this philosophy, we know we are going to win or die with this style of play... we hope to make history again," he said.
Success in Brazil would see them become the first Europeans to win the World Cup in the Americas, adding to their title in South Africa and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.