The Spanish national football team represents Spain in international football and is controlled by the Royal Spanish Football Federation. The Spanish side are commonly referred to as La Furia Roja (The Red Fury).
Spain are the current European champions, having won the UEFA European Championship in 2008. They also won the European Nations’ Cup in 1964 and reached the UEFA Euro 1984 Final. Spain have qualified for the FIFA World Cup twelve times, reaching fourth place in the 1950 tournament.
In July 2008, Spain rose to the top of the FIFA World Ranking for the first time in their history, becoming the sixth nation, and the first who has never won the World Cup, to top this ranking. Between November 2006 and June 2009, Spain went undefeated for a record tying 35 consecutive matches —record shared with Brazil— including a record 15-game winning streak.
Spain Football Team History:
The 1950 World Cup was held in Brazil from June 24 to July 16. Spain were drawn in Group 2, along with England, the United States and Chile. Spain ended the Group stages winning all their matches, and finishing at the top of Group 2.
At this time, the winner of the World Cup was decided not by a single championship match, but via a group format involving the four teams who had won their respective groups in the previous stage. The four teams in the final group were Uruguay, Brazil, Sweden and Spain. Spain failed to record a win (W0 D1 L2)and finished in fourth place. To date, this fourth place finish remains the furthest that Spain have reached in the World Cup.
Spain’s leading scorer during the 1950 World Cup was striker Estanislao Basora, who ended the tournament with 5 goals.
In 1962, José Villalonga was appointed coach of Spain. Under Villalonga, Spain qualified for the 1962 World Cup but were eliminated in the first round group against Brazil, Czechoslovakia, and Mexico. Two years later they hosted the European Championship, in which they beat Romania, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland to move on to the semifinals. There they beat highly-favoured Hungary 2–1 after extra time. They went on to face the USSR 2–1 before a crowd of more than 79,000 at the Bernabéu in Madrid. Jesús María Pereda put Spain ahead after just six minutes, but Galimzian Khusainov equalised a few minutes later with a free kick. Marcelino Martínez put in a late header to win Spain’s first major international title.
Spain returned to form with an undefeated progess through a qualifying group for Euro 76 against Romania, Scotland, and Denmark, but failed to reach the final stages after a 3–1 defeat by West Germany in the quarterfinals.
The 1978 World Cup witnessed Spain’s first World Cup finals appearance since 1966. Spain qualified by finishing top of a group including Yugoslavia and Romania with three wins in four matches. In the finals, Spain were drawn into group 3 with Brazil, Austria, and Sweden. Spain started the finals by losing 2–1 to Austria, but despite drawing with Brazil 0–0 and defeating Sweden 1–0, they were knocked out at that stage.
In 1966, Spain was selected as host of the 1982 FIFA World Cup. This edition of the World Cup featured 24 teams for the first time. Expectations were high for Spain as the host nation under coach José Santamaría. In the group stages, Spain was drawn into Group 5, in which they could only manage a 1–1 draw with Honduras in the finals’ opening match, after which they had a 2–1 victory over Yugoslavia, but were defeated 1–0 by Northern Ireland. These results were enough to secure progress to the second round where they were drawn into Group B, but defeat to West Germany and a goalless draw with England meant that Spain were knocked out, and Santamaría was sacked.
Former Real Madrid coach Miguel Muñoz, who had temporarily coached Spain in 1969, returned to the national side. Spain were in Euro 84 qualifying Group 7, against The Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Iceland, and Malta. Entering the last match, Spain needed to defeat Malta by at least 11 goals to surpass the Netherlands for the top spot in the group, and after leading 3-1 at half time, Spain scored 9 goals in the second half to win by 12-1 and win the group. In the finals tournament, Spain were drawn into group B with Romania, Portugal, and West Germany: after 1-1 draws against their first two opponents, Spain topped the group by virtue of a 1–0 victory against West Germany. The semifinals saw Spain and Denmark drawn at 1-1 after extra time, before Spain proceeded by virtue of winning the penalty shootout 5–4 on penalties. Hosts and tournament favourites France defeated Spain 2-0 in the final after a goalless first half.
For the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Spain had a new coach, Luis Suárez. Having qualified from a group consisting of Republic of Ireland, Hungary, Northern Ireland, and Malta, Spain entered the competition on a good run of form, and after reaching the knock out stages through a 0–0 draw with Uruguay and wins over South Korea (3–1) and Belgium (2–1), fell to a 2–1 defeat to Yugoslavia in the second round.
Newly appointed coach Vicente Miera failed to gain qualification for Spain for Euro 92, after finishing third in a group behind France and Czechoslovakia. Vicente Miera did however lead Spain to the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Javier Clemente was appointed as Spain’s coach in 1992, and the qualification for the 1994 World Cup was achieved with eight wins and one loss in twelve matches. In the final tournament Spain were in Group C in which they drew with Korea Republic 2–2 and 1–1 with Germany, before qualifying for the second round with a 3–1 victory over Bolivia. Spain continued through the second round with a 3-0 victory over Switzerland, but their tournament ended with a 2–1 defeat to Italy in the quarter-finals.
After a 3–2 opening defeat to Cyprus in Euro 2000 qualifying, Clemente was fired and José Antonio Camacho was appointed as coach. Spain won the rest of their games to qualify for the final tournament, where they were drawn into Group C. A 1-0 defeat to Norway was followed by victories over Slovenia (2-1) and Yugoslavia (4–3), with Spain thus setting up a quarterfinal against 1998 World Cup champions, France, which was won 2-1 by France.
At Euro 2004 in Portugal, Spain were drawn into group A with hosts Portugal, Russia and Greece, behind whom they had finished second in qualifying. Spain defeated Russia 1–0 and drew 1–1 with Greece, but failed to get the draw they needed against Portugal to proceed to the knock out stages. Iñaki Sáez was sacked weeks later and replaced by Luis Aragonés.
Spain qualified for the 2006 World Cup only after a play-off against Slovakia, as they had finished behind Serbia and Montenegro in Group 7, which also included Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Lithuania, and San Marino. In Group H of the German hosted finals, Spain won all their matches, beating Ukraine 4–0, Tunisia 3–1 and Saudi Arabia 1-0. However Spain fell 3–1 in the second round to France, with only the consolation of a share, with Brazil, of the 2006 FIFA Fair Play Award. Spain qualified for Euro 2008 at the top of Qualifying Group F with 28 points out of a possible 36, and were seeded 12th for the finals. They won all their games in Group D: 4–1 against Russia, and 2-1 against both Sweden and defending champions Greece.
Luis Aragonés left the manager’s role after the Euro 2008 success, and was replaced by Vicente del Bosque.
2008 saw David Villa score 12 goals in 15 games, breaking the Spanish record of 10 goals in one year held by Raúl since 1999. On 11 February 2009, David Villa broke another Spanish record against England, as his 36th-minute goal saw him become the first Spanish player to score in six consecutive games.
The 2010 World Cup draw, which took place on 4 December 2009, placed Spain in Group H. They will play their first match against Switzerland on 16 June, followed by Honduras on 21 June and finally Chile on 25 June.