Spain coach Vicente del Bosque heads into his team's opening Group H game tomorrow against Switzerland believing South Africa's tournament can still be remembered as the best FIFA World Cup™ of all time. Del Bosque said today he and his players feel a sense of responsibility to make the tournament a success so the people in the host country, and all of Africa, have something to be proud of.
Del Bosque said: "We have to be positive. I want to be very optimistic. We have to help because this is the first World Cup in Africa. So if there are any logistical problems or any other issues, we have to just co-operate so that this World Cup is the best ever."
Spain head into the tournament as reigning European champions and are among the favourites for the title. "It's difficult to get away from the view of the outside," said Del Bosque. "There is an optimism as if we were going to play the World Cup final now. But fortunately, we have players that are aware of the reality and not of utopia. Players that know what football is like."
Del Bosque is just happy to have all of his players available for the tournament. Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta all suffered injuries in recent months but have recovered. "It's a good day for us," said Del Bosque. "I have 23 players who are all in perfect condition. We are ready to start this World Cup."
I have 23 players who are all in perfect condition.
Del Bosque could leave Barcelona star Andres Iniesta out of his starting XI for tomorrow's game despite the player having shaken off a muscular injury. "Iniesta trained yesterday and today," Del Bosque said. "We will talk to the doctors and decide what is best. We have to think about the future, not just about tomorrow."
Spain, who won all of their warm-up games before travelling to South Africa, will not take Switzerland lightly. "With the exception of the Germany game, this has been a very level World Cup," said Del Bosque. "There have been few differences between teams and there are many candidates for the title.
"We know Switzerland. We know they have qualified directly. It's a team that have been working for many years together, they have good organising skills and a great coach. We respect them enormously."
Del Bosque has urged his players not to be driven by anxiety. "We have to work towards being superior to our rivals on the pitch," he said. "It's good to have responsibility but we cannot allow that to affect our game."
Del Bosque is set to start with Barcelona's new boy David Villa as the lone striker, with Liverpool's Fernando Torres starting on the bench.