MADRID (AP) — Spain has a chance to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cup titles since Brazil in 1962, and what better place to do it than in the country that coined the phrase "Jogo Bonito."
Four years after winning its first world title, Spain is not as feared as before, but coach Vicente del Bosque still has the luxury of enough talent and experience to field two teams.
Spain's midfield remains the cog to its success with veteran players Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Xabi Alonso; difference-makers like David Silva and Cesc Fabregas; and the arrivals of burgeoning talents such as Thiago Alcantara and Isco to carry forward the team's quick-touch, possession football.
Del Bosque has shown a wily ability to adapt his team to circumstances since taking over for Luis Aragones following the 2008 European Championship.
Four years ago, Spain rallied from its opening loss to Switzerland to reach the final, beating the Netherlands 1-0 with a more defensive approach as Alonso and Sergio Busquets stacked the midfield and protected the back.
Two years later at Euro 2012, Del Bosque dropped the traditional striker to use Fabregas in a "false 9" attacking role, culminating with a 4-0 rout of Italy in the final.
In Brazil, the former Real Madrid coach will likely experiment again with the arrival of striker Diego Costa.
Costa's physical prowess and ferocious appetite for goal has overwhelmed defenders during a breakout season at Atletico Madrid. But the Brazilian-born forward's temper will be under scrutiny as home fans goad him for passing on the chance to play for his native land.
"When I found out about Spain's interest I started to think, 'Why not?' For the world champion to consider me is a great honor," Costa said. "Del Bosque has been clear and hasn't promised me anything and I don't want anything handed to me, I want to earn it. I told him I wouldn't join the team if it created problems."
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