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World Cup 2006 - Expectations

So here we are then, another four years have gone by and the World Cup is round the corner again. What can we say about Spain that we didn't say last time around (see link), nothing seems to have changed except that maybe this time the competition is taking place in Europe, which must give us a better chance.

But it's hard to see who Spain's star players are - Raúl should be one but an injury has kept him out for half the season, and the same can be said for Xavi. And Vicente didn't even recover from his ankle troubles to make the squad! Fernando Torres, Joaquín, both great talents but looking a little jaded over the last few months and Luque, the surprise choice four years ago, has been left out after a disappointing season in England.

David Villa could be the man to watch, but otherwise we have to look to the defence, with Casillas rated one of the best keepers in the world, Puyol a tower of strength in the heart of the back four and Sergio Ramos an exciting new talent.

We should get through a relatively easy group stage, but after that it's up to fate, with France or our nemesis from last time around South Korea possibly awaiting us in the knock out stages.

We would love to see Luis Aragonés lead them out in Berlin on 9th July (against Ronaldinho's Brazil?), but possibly that's too much to hope for. Maybe next time around?