Group D: Spain       Castellano   Page 2

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 Real Federación Española de Fútbol  

Coach: Javier CLEMENTE

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vs.NIGERIA

13.06.98 Nantes

vs.PARAGUAY

19.06.98 Saint-Etienne

vs.BULGARIA

24.06.98 Lens

Team Colors: Red shirt with Gold trim, Blue pants

Confederation: UEFA

10th appearance in World Cup finals

4th in 1950 World Cup in Brazil

Won European Championships in 1964

Finalist in European Championships in 1984

Key players: M Raúl (Real Madrid),

M Fernando Hierro (Real Madrid),

M Iván de la Peña (Barcelona),

D Sergi (Barcelona).

Fernando Hierro

®CnnSi/Allsport

Keep an Eye on: Raúl: 20 and potentially Spain's best forward ever.

Fernando Hierro: Intelligent midfield player or sweeper, veteran of two previous World Cups, he makes Spain tick with his intelligence.One of the leading scorers, with Enrique and Guerrero, during the 1998 qualifying with 3 goals each.

Analysis: Outstanding team. Has been unlucky in major championships. Raúl is one of the game's best young players, Sergi is one of the best defenders. This team is capable of going a long way but probably won't.

History: In the 1950s and 1960s, players like Alfredo Di Stefano (Real Madrid 1953-64), Ferenc Puskas (Real Madrid 1958-1969), Francisco Gento (Real Madrid 1953-71) and Luis Suarez (Barcelona and Inter Milan) earned the status of "legends of the game." The national team failed to feed off this success. One European Championship win (they beat Russia 2-1 in Madrid in the 1964), one runners-up appearance in the same event in 1984, when they lost 2-0 to France in the final, and fourth place in the 1994 World Cup in the USA is all they have to show for their efforts.

Spain joins Brazil, Argentina and Germany as one of the few countries making their sixth consecutive appearance in the World Cup finals. However, their record in the finals leaves a lot to be desired, with the most notable failure coming in 1982, when they failed to get beyond the second round on home soil. It's a different story at club level. Real Madrid, with six European Champions Cups (1956,'57,'58,'59,'60,'66) to their name and Barcelona, who won the Champions Cup in 1992and have four European Cup Winners Cups to their name (1979,'82,'89,'97), are two of the biggest names in world football.

In recent years, Basque coach Javier Clemente has brought renewed hope to Spanish fans. Since his arrival in 1992, Spain have lost only three times in 54 matches (33 wins, 18 draws). Unfortunately one of these defeats came in the quarter-finals of USA 94 to Italy. Nevertheless, it was only bad luck - in the shape of poor refereeing - that denied them in the United States in 1994.

Players like Kiko, Abelardo and Ferrer, who helped Spain win Olympic gold in Barcelona 1992, now form the backbone of the side, while 36-year-old goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta has seen it all -- this will be his fourth consecutive World Cup. Their potential star player for France 98 is Raúl, the 20-year-old forward who has already passed the 50-goal mark for Real Madrid.

The Clemente record is awesome. Spain are unbeaten for more than three seasons: they were undefeated in qualifying for the European championship and the World Cup. At Euro 96, only a penalty shoot-out sent them home - and that after they had the better of their match against England, the hosts. Clemente, a Basque, is a complex character. He shies from flair players, but the work ethic that he espouses has transformed Spain from a cavalier team that buckled under pressure into a side that can match any in Europe.

If Spain had a weakness in Euro 96, it was up front, where a lack of goals undermined their intelligent build-up, as the game against England at Wembley testified, but Clemente seems to have solved this by finally allowing Raúl, the young Real Madrid forward, his head. The coach had been reluctant to choose players perceived to be stars. It is no coincidence that Spain are ranked second in the world by Fifa, behind Brazil, and appear Europe's best bet to wrestle the World Cup trophy away from South America.

POSITION NAME AGE CAPS

G Andoni Zubizaretta 36 121

G Santiago Canizares 28 9  

G José Molina 27 1

D Albert Ferrer 27 32

D Carlos Aguilera 28 3

D Roberto Ríos 26 9

D Miguel Angel Nadal 31 42

D Rafael Alkorta 29 47

D Santi Denia 23 1

D Sergi Barjuan 25 30

D Abelardo Fernandez 27 37

M Emilio Amavisca 26 15

M Fernando Hierro 29 54

M Julen Guerrero 23 30

M Guillermo Amor 29 30

M Luis Enrique 27 33

F Kiko Narváez 25 18

F Raúl Gonzalez 20 10

F Oli Alvarez 25 2

F Alfonso Pérez 25 23

F Juan Pizzi 29 19

F Jordi Lardin 24 1

F Joseba Etxeberria 20 1

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