Spain coach Vicente del Bosque believes he has a ‘stable team’ ahead of his side’s defence of the World Cup in Brazil.
Del Bosque’s squad for the 2014 World Cup contains 16 of the 23 players who were part of the victorious party in South Africa four years ago.
Their opening game in Group B on Friday is a repeat of the last World Cup final against the Netherlands, while Spain also face Chile and Australia.
Though several members of the team are seemingly nearing the end of their international careers, Del Bosque is happy with the make-up of his current squad.
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“In the past, Spain has had a tendency to come into each game with new players: now we have a core of regular players, some of whom get more playing time than others, but it is a stable team,” Del Bosque told a Sky Sports programme titled Cesc's Story of Spain, which is screened on Wednesday night on Sky Sports 1 at 7.30pm.
“The new players have to earn their place. As a manager, I have to be careful with this, not to rush to introduce new players but also not to stem the tide altogether. This way we refresh the team smoothly and don’t rule anybody out.”
Del Bosque also dismissed the recurring suggestion that the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid has led to difficulties within the squad.
He added: “I haven’t noticed it. When players put on the Spain shirt they tend to leave their other loyalties behind.
“There might be some historical incidents from many years ago which you could cite when there were some ferocious encounters between Real Madrid and Barcelona, but in reality I think it is minimal.”
The former Real Madrid coach boss also outlined the thinking behind the national team’s style, which is similar to the ‘tiki-taka’ approach at Barcelona.
“I think it’s about putting into practice the football which suits the players we have. What we can’t do is go against the natural inclination of those players. If we choose certain players it is for a reason.
“After that we can put in a degree of work on the chalkboard – whether we play with three forwards or two defensive midfielders or focus on wide areas – but at the end I think that the general concept of the way we play is quite clear.”