Spain won back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012. Their lone World Cup victory came sandwiched in between in 2010. Sadly, La Roja disappointed their fans in the next two World Cups in 2014 and 2018.
However, the squad reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020. They also got to the title clash of the Nations League. Could these performances be the precursors of a World Cup title in 2023?
How Spain Qualified for WC 2023
Bookmakers place Spain below Brazil, France and England, on the list of favourites. Qualifying for the World Cup 2023 was not a walk in the park. They lost the opening match of their qualifying group to Sweden.
However, Sweden stumbled in their last two group games. Spain finished second in the group after winning six and drawing one of their next seven games. Thus, Spain qualified for their 12th successive World Cup, while Sweden failed to make the cut.
Spain in Tough Group
Spain are in group E, alongside Germany, Japan and New Zealand. With Germany and Japan likely to compete hard, this is a tough group. However, Spain will be happy to play New Zealand in their opening game in Al Khor on 23 November.
That will be followed by a match at Doha versus Germany on 27 November. La Roja’s last group match against Japan is scheduled to be played at Al Rayyan on 1 December.
If Spain Head Group E
Assuming that they head group E, Spain will face the runners up of group F, in the last 16. The four teams in group F are Belgium, Morocco, Croatia and Canada. Belgium are expected to win the group, with Croatia likely to place second. The round of 16 match will take place at Al Wakrah on 5 December.
If Spain reach the quarter-finals, they will play the winners of match 54 between winners of Group G and runners up of Group H. Group G consists of Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon, while Group H has Portugal, South Korea, Uruguay, and Ghana.
Spain’s rivals in the semi-finals could be the winners of Group A or Group C. Alternatively, La Roja could face the runners up of Group B or Group D. Thus, they could meet one of Argentina, England, France, Poland, Qatar, Senegal, and the USA.
If Spain Are Group Runners Up
Assuming that they finish second in Group E, Spain would meet the winners of Group F in the last 16. That match due to be held in Al Rayyan on 3 December could be against one of Belgium, Croatia, Canada and Morocco.
If they win that game, they will meet the winners of match 56 in the quarter-finals. That match would be contested by the winners of group H and the runners of group G. Their semi-finals, if Spain got that far, would be against the winners of group B or group D. Alternatively, they could face the runners up of group A or group C.
Spain have played in every World Cup since 1978, reaching the final on only one occasion, in 2010. They have made it to the semi-finals only twice. La Roja have exited the competition in the group stage on five occasions, including 2014 when they were defending the title.
We expect Spain to qualify past the group stage, despite the stiff competition. We think they will finish second behind Germany. So, in all likelihood, they will take on Belgium in the last 16, which could be their last game.
In our estimation, Belgium are much stronger. However, if Spain live up to our expectations and top group E, they would probably meet Croatia in the last 16. We expect them to win that game and reach the quarter-finals versus Brazil. In that case, their game against the South American giants will likely prove to be their last.