Powers embark on cup quest

These two nations are among the most successful in world football. While La Celeste won the FIFA World Cup™ in 1930 and 1950, La Roja have been a major force in recent times, winning the world title at South Africa 2010.

The reigning champions in their respective continents, the global powers lock horns in the opening match in Group B of the FIFA Confederations Cup, the one major trophy both nations have yet to win.

The game
Spain-Uruguay, Sunday 16 June, Recife, 19:00 (local time)

The stakes
Though reigning champions in their confederations, the form of the two sides is contrasting to say the least. Top of Group I in the European qualifying competition for Brazil 2014, Spain have gone 22 games unbeaten since going down 1-0 to England in November 2011. The South Americans, meanwhile, have been unable to maintain the high standard they reached in winning the 2011 Copa America in Argentina, though they will be buoyed by Tuesday’s vital qualifying win in Venezuela, which took them back up to fifth place in the qualifying table.

The head-to-head record heavily favours Spain, who have won four and drawn the other five of the nine previous matches between the sides. Their first meeting also came in Brazil, at the FIFA World Cup in 1950, when they played out a 2-2 draw in the final round in Sao Paulo.

The stat
3 -
 The number of Uruguayan players currently plying their trade in the Spanish league: Diego Lugano of Malaga and Diego Godin and Cristian Rodriguez of Atletico Madrid. Strangely, neither club have any players in the Spain squad. 

The words 
“The level of competition is going to be very high, and the best players and coaches in the world are going to be there. Brazil is a country that really lives and breathes football. It’s going to be a great tournament but it won’t be an easy one to win. I really hope Spain can achieve the greatest possible success,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.

“We know we’ve got a very prestigious tournament coming up and what we want to do first and foremost is enjoy it. It won’t be easy, though. Spain are defining an era right now. They’ve won the biggest tournaments, their style of play is the envy of the world, and they are very influential in the modern game,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez.