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World Cup Participation

1934, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2022



Spain Soccer Team History

Euro Glory, World Cup Disappointments

The Spain national football team made their debut at the 1920 Summer Olympics, defeating Denmark 1-0 in their first match. Spain finished the tournament as Silver medalist.

Spain national football team qualified for their first World Cup in 1934, and they defeated Brazil in the round of 16, however, they drew with hosts Italy in the quarterfinals and lost in a replay match.

Fourth place at the 1950 FIFA World Cup remained Spain’s best finish at the tournament until 2010. The next Spain World Cup appearance was in 1962, but they went out on the group stage.

Spain’s first major international tournament victory came two years later as they hosted the European Championship. They defeated both Hungary and Russia 2-1 as Chus Pereda scored in both matches.

At the 1966 World Cup, Spain finished behind both West Germany and Argentina in their group and suffered another early exit. La Furia Roja failed to qualify for the next two World Cups and returned in 1978. They’ve qualified for every World Cup since.

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In 1978, Spain national football team went out in the group stage for a third consecutive time. They did, however, manage a win, loss and a draw. Four years later, hosts Spain finally made it out of the group stage again. They narrowly edged out Yugoslavia for second in the group on a tiebreaker to advance to the second round.

In the second round, which was then a group format, Spain finished below both West Germany and England and were eliminated. At Euro 1984, Spain managed their best finish since 1964. They finished on top of a group with Portugal, West Germany, Romania – and defeated Denmark in penalties in the semis. Michel Platini and France were too much for Spain to handle as La Roja fell 2-0 in the final.

Spain national football team made it out of the group stage at the next three World Cups and reached the quarterfinals in both 1986 and 1994. Spain’s 1994 loss was controversial as Luis Enrique was elbowed by an Italy player in the box but it went unseen.

La Furia Roja won all three of their group matches in 2002 and defeated Republic of Ireland in the round of 16. In their quarterfinal match with co hosts South Korea, they had two goals called back. In another controversial match, South Korea ended up advancing in a PK shootout.

With the profile of the national team rising, Spain also won all three of their group matches in 2006 but fell to France in the round of 16.

Golden Generation

Spain national football team won their first major title in 44 years at Euro 2008 and became the first undefeated winner since 1996. David Villa scored a hat trick in Spain’s 4-1 opening win vs. Russia. La Roja also defeated Sweden and defending champions Greece in the group stage.

It took penalties to defeat Italy in the quarterfinals and Spain easily beat Russia 3-0 in the semis. Fernando Torres scored the game’s only goal in the final vs. Germany. Villa was the Euro 2008 top scorer, and midfielder – Xavi was named the tournament’s best player.

In June 2009, Spain’s 35-match unbeaten streak was broken at the FIFA Confederations Cup as they lost 2-0 to the USA. Spain came back with a vengeance in 2010 as they won their first ever World Cup. Andres Iniesta’s extra time winner in the final vs. the Netherlands sealed the victory. Villa finished as joint-top scorer, while Iker Casillas won the Golden Glove.

Spain’s dominance was fueled by “tiki-taka” soccer in which they dominated possession and played many quick short passes. The midfield pairing of Xavi and Iniesta was considered the world’s best.

Two years later, at Euro 2012, Spain became the first team to win three major tournaments in a row. Like at the 2020 World Cup, Spain didn’t concede a single goal in the knockout stage. La Roja demolished Italy 4-0 in the final as Iniesta was voted the tournament’s best player. Fernando Torres also came away with the Golden Boot.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was a huge disappointment for Spain as they were eliminated in the group stage. The golden generation officially came to an end as they went home in the round of 16 in both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

A new-look Spanish team did make the semifinals at Euro 2020 as Pedri was voted Best Young Player.

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