Current World Cup holders Spain look set to go far in the tournament again in Brazil, but are tipped to fall short of retaining the trophy and bow out at the semi-final stage.
Ladbrokes are quoting odds of 13/10 that La Furia Roja make the semi-finals in their Minimum Progress market, but the advice is to take the top price of 11/2 with Bet365 that they exit the tournament at that stage.
As hot favourites to top Group B, Spain should be able to avoid leading tournament fancies Brazil in the Second Round if the group stage plays out according the the current odds. Netherlands look like being the biggest test in their opening three matches, but Oranje's defence looks to be a weakness which Spain can exploit, while Chile and in particular Australia are expected to struggle against the reigning world champions.
Should everything also go to plan for Brazil in Group A then Spain will take on likely runners-up Croatia in Fortaleza on June 29th. The Blazers shouldn't pose much of a threat to Vicente Del Bosque's experienced side and the winner will book a quarter-final date in Salvador on July 5th.
Using the current Group Winner odds as a guide, Italy look the most likely opponents at this stage as they are favourites to top Group D and should be too strong for probable Group C runners-up Ivory Coast in the last 16. Even if England or Uruguay manage to pip Italy to top spot in their pool or Colombia finish as runners-up instead of Ivory Coast, Spain will contest the quarter-final as favourites and look likely to progress to the semi-final on July 9th in Sao Paulo.
Again referring to the Group Winner odds as a guide, Belgium should meet Portugal in the last 16, while Argentina are expected to face Switzerland and it's difficult to see the latter fixture being anything other than a win for Argentina. Portugal will probably edge their Second Round game to set up a tasty Ronaldo v Messi encounter, but it's the South American side who look best equipped to advance with more strength in depth.
So the most likely semi-final opponent for Spain is Argentina who are second favourites in the tournament outright betting and will be suited to the conditions in their own continent. It will be close, but it could be the end of Spain's trophy defence.
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