Spain hoping to disprove naysayers

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:43 PM ET

JOHANNESBURG - Despite suggestions to the contrary, it is an urban myth that the word "Spain" is a synonym for "chokers."

It only seems that way if you listen to many members of the global media, which seem to take glee in bringing up the fact that the Spanish have never ventured further than the second round of any World Cup.

But South Africa 2010 would seem to be different, if only for the fact that Spain appears to have the deepest roster in the entire tournament along with five-time champions Brazil.

Of course, having one of the best teams on paper means nothing if you can't back it up on the pitch.

To that end, the Spanish will attempt to walk the walk in this edition of the World Cup beginning Wednesday when it opens up the tournament against Switzerland in Durban.

Interestingly Spain's only loss in its past 49 games came here in South Africa last year when it was upset by the United States in a semifinal of the Confederation Cup.

True, Spain made a lot of believers out of the cynics when it won Euro 2008 by beating European powerhouse Germany in the final in Vienna.

But this is the World Cup, the sport's ultimate prize. And unless the Spanish can hoist the trophy July 11 at Johannesburg's Soccer City, their reputation as underachievers, fairly or unfairly, will stick with them.

"Everything depends on results," Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas said. "No matter how good your team is, if you don't win the tournament then everything is in vain."

Casillas knows the Spanish have come to previous World Cups very highly regarded only to fall short time and time again. "That is why we are very cautious and prudent now," he said.

The Spanish should be buoyed by the expected return of striker Fernando Torres, who has missed several months after undergoing knee surgery. That's bad news for the Swiss, who have never beaten Spain in 18 previous meetings.


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