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Five clean sheets and three goal scorers put la Furia Roja on top of the world...

Following their perfect campaign in Group 5 of UEFA's qualifying path for World Cup 2010, which saw them win all ten games, it was easy to see why European champions Spain were installed by many bookmakers as favourites to go all the way to glory in South Africa.

In their final warm-up game in Murcia, they annihilated Poland 6-0 to heighten already lofty expectations on a team that had never previously managed to progress beyond the last eight of the competition. But despite having only lost one game in 48 outings prior to the commencement of the finals, coach Vicente del Bosque was vehement in his assertion that humility was the key to success for Spain's golden generation. 

Group H: Spain 0-1 Switzerland

If Del Bosque's cautionary words were not enough to alert total football's current guardians of the potential pitfalls that South Africa possessed then their Group H opener against Ottmar Hitzfeld's Switzerland provided a timely reminder that anything short of their clinical best would leave the exit door off the latch.

Despite Gelson Fernandes netting a 51st minute winner for the Swiss, Spain didn't do a whole lot wrong in this tie, probing in typically patient fashion but ultimately lacking the crucial finishing touch to beat a very much in-form Diego Benaglio. Andres Iniesta's troublesome hamstring was not quite right and he left this game on 76 minutes as a precautionary measure, which hindsight will applaud as a telling intervention from the coach.

Group H: Spain 2-0 Honduras

Prior to this game, all the talk from the Spain camp was that they faced two 'finals' just to keep their World Cup dream alive - just days into their quest for World Cup glory, la Furia Roja were already in knockout mode.

The confidence instilled in the Spaniards since the success of Euro 2008 was clearly in evidence as they swept the Central American challenge aside with a convincing team display as all bar a rusty Fernando Torres lived up to their billing as world class individual contributors in a first class side. David Villa netted in either half to complete a comfortable win but also missed a penalty which would have given him the Golden Ball.

Group H: Chile 1-2 Spain

In many ways this final group game was all-or-nothing for Spain as they knew a win would leave them top while defeat could result in the unthinkable early trip home. Marcelo Bielsa's side, already assured of a knockout place, were competitive in the early stages but two goals in the first half, from Andres Iniesta and David Villa, put Del Bosque's men well and truly in control.

Their resilient defence weathered a brief period of pressure from Chile in the second half, after Rodrigo Millar gave la Roja hope, before seeing the game out to fulfil expectations by claiming top spot in the group.

Round of 16: Spain 1-0 Portugal

Portugal's failure to go for the jugular against Brazil in their final Group G contest set up this mouth-watering encounter with their Iberian neighbours. It was Cristiano Ronaldo's chance to shine against the familiar faces from the land of his employers, but the fact that goalkeeper Eduardo emerged as the best player in the Portuguese lineup told its own tale.

David Villa once again took responsibility for an otherwise goal-shy Spanish side, firing home at the second attempt shortly after the hour mark after the muscle of Fernando Llorente had added a new dimension to the Spain attack which Portugal's defence struggled to deal with.


Quarter-Final: Paraguay 0-1 Spain

With France, Italy, England, Argentina and Brazil all having fallen by the wayside at this juncture, expectations in Madrid were escalating at a similar rate to the searing temperatures on the nation's Mediterranean coast.

Again Del Bosque stressed the importance of humility and respect for their opponents, and after both sides missed spot-kicks, Spain got their just reward as Villa netted eight minutes from time to send them through to a historic semi-final.

Semi-final: Germany 0-1 Spain


In many respects this was the final everyone wanted to see as arguably the two best footballing sides in the competition squared off in a repeat of the Euro 2008 final. However Joachim Loew's side, minus suspended talisman Thomas Mueller, failed to replicate the form they had shown in the earlier rounds.


Although the semi-final was keenly contested and quite evenly matched, Spain took full advantage of die Mannschaft's hesitancy as veteran defender Carles Puyol became just their third goalscorer at this year's finals, rising majestically to power Xavi's corner home with a magnificent header.

2010 World Cup Final: Netherlands 0-1 Spain

Just as their tournament had begun, Spain's glorious finale was refereed by Howard Webb. For large periods the game was dominated by some over-zealous and ultimately illegal challenges, yet the English official, despite dishing out 13 yellow cards, did his level best to ensure that all 22 men finished the game.

In the end Johnny Heitinga gave Webb no option in extra-time after Arjen Robben had spurned a couple of gilt-edged chances to give the Dutch shirt its first gold star. Spain seized the opportunity, and their patience, refusal to bow to Holland's combative style and total dedication to total football got its 36 centimetre gold & malachite reward when Andres Iniesta fired home to etch la Furia Roja's deserved place in World Cup history.

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