European Champions and favourites for the World Cup. After years of failure and false dawns the majestic midget gems of Spain finally looked perfectly set to stand at the summit of the global game for the very first time.
But the news that Fernando Torres is now struggling to be fit for their opener against Switzerland in Durban on June 16 throws a spanner in the works of their quest for a maiden World Cup triumph.
Admittedly, they possess an embarrassment of riches up front with a dexterity of midfield players that allow Spain to morph their make-up into a variety of potent dynamics that could outflank any nation but losing Torres, who creates the space which gives David Villa more freedom to prey, or having him below full output, will be a significant hurdle to negotiate.
The doubts over Cesc Fabregas, who is growing to become a more essential part of the Spanish substance and a further blow for Andres Iniesta, means that Vicente del Bosque may need several plans up his suit sleeves this summer.
Ledley King for the World Cup?
Imagine this scenario. England finally break into the final four of a major tournament and are just one game from the World Cup Final. John Terry and Rio Ferdinand have played all five games together at centre-half, but one is now suspended.
Who could Fabio Capello turn to for a single performance, to seamlessly slip in and be a commanding presence, a player who would not diminish England's back-line?
How about Ledley King? Yet again in the North London derby last week, King was called upon by Tottenham, ousting Sebastien Bassong, and he put in another inspirational performance.
Years back at Euro 2004 it was fifth-choice centre-back King who slipped into the line-up and put in a faultless display against the tournament favourites France. Fabio Capello has already stated he would not consider King for his squad unless he could remain fit on a regular basis, but if the Tottenham captain is able to continue stepping in for his club and delivering in their most important matches, then King, could surely help in England's chase for the crown.
Pitching For 2018
Think ahead three World Cups. If only the FA had when they decided on the function of their £800 million reconstruction of Wembley Stadium - the national football stadium. Not only is it bad enough that it is a nightmare for anyone to get to or has barely any local amenities for fans enjoying their footballing day of the season, decade or a lifetime who then get charged through the nose for the privilege of being there.
But they cannot even provide a pitch to remotely validate the construction cost. The cost which has meant that it is not just a national football stadium but an NFL facility, stage for the world's rock stars and the scene of motorsports 'Race of Champions' - where the hallowed turf is covered and converted into a race track. Michael Dawson may have made a slip-up, but his was a drop in the ocean compared to that made at Soho Square which despite recent events people have been telling them for years.
Forget the FIFA politicking and the swooning of vermin like Jack Warner - the biggest challenge to England landing the 2018 World Cup may be ensuring that we can provide a playable piece of grass. Ridiculous.
All Together Now
No-one follows their team quite like the Dutch. England may have the numbers, Scotland may have the good-humour (unfortunately for them they haven't been able to spread it to a major tournament in 12 years) but for colour and unity no-one does it quite like the Dutch, clad to a man (or women) in bright orange.
It's not quite the same on their own shores where their FA has had to make the forthcoming Dutch Cup Final a two-legged affair to prevent the sworn enemies of Ajax and Feyernoord coming together inside the stadium after 'fans' from both clubs got hold of tickets in the 'neutral' section.
No away fans at either, and all in all, quite a sterile experience for the climax of the Dutch domestic season. I can only imagine what Michel Platini would have to say if here in England we were forced to do the same.
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