Spain has always been a country that has one of the best footballing leagues in the world. Nonetheless, the country’s World Cup record has been less than desirable.
In 1934, Spain’s quest for World Cup glory began in Italy. At this time, the first World Cup was being held in Europe and there were no group games. Therefore, Spain was able to progress to the quarter finals with the help of a 3-1 win over Brazil. During extra time, however, Spain was defeated by the tournament’s host nation.
In 1938, Spain once again missed out on World Cup glory. This was primarily due to the fact that the country was engaged in a Civil War at this time. Therefore, they didn’t really have another crack at the trophy until 1950 in Brazil. The country hoped to continue the momentum it had started in 1934 and things looked good when they beat England, Chile, and the United States. The four group winners then moved on to the final group stage. The 7 – 1 loss to Brazil, however, laid to rest any hopes that Spain had of winning the tournament. In fact, Spain ended up finishing at the bottom of the group despite being the only side to avoid being beaten by the final ultimate winners, Uruguay. To this day, the 1950 tournament remains the country’s greatest performance.
For the next 12 years, the Spainards experienced heartache after heartache as the country continually failed to qualify for the final tournament. In 1962, however, Spain finally returned, but was eliminated at the group stage. The country once again repeated this abysmal performance in 1966.
Spain then endured another 12 years of failure to qualify and finally reappeared in 1978. They once again were eliminated at the group stage, though the lose was marginal as they lost out by only one point.
Spain then hosted the 1982 tournament, which seemed like it might serve as a turnaround point for the country. This time, they had a 1 – 1 draw with Honduras and then suprisingly lost to Northern Ireland. They went on to win against Yugoslavia, however, which ensured passage into the second round. Here, they were defeated by West Germany and ended up finishing at the bottom of the second round. To the disappointment of their fans, being the host of the tournament still didn’t help the country bring home the trophy.
At the Mexico ’86 tournament, Spain managed to secure revenge over Northern Ireland with a 2 – 1 score. They then managed to progress to the Last 16, where they beat Denmark with an astounding 5 to 1 score. The Danes was led by Michael Laudrup, Morten Olsen, Preben Elkjaer and a whole host of talented players and was considered the dark horse of 86. In the quarter finals, they faced off against Belgium and tied during normal time, but Belgium ultimately won on penalties 5 – 4. Although Spain was certainly disappointed by the loss, it appeared as if the team was finally moving in the right direction.
The Italia ’90 tournament, however, only resulted in more disappointment for the team and its fans. After winning their group, Spain went on to be eliminated by Yugoslavia in the 2nd round with a 2 – 1 scoreline in extra time.
Four years later, Roberto Baggio inflicted Spain with some more heartache. After scoring goals in both halves, Spain ultimately lost with a score of 2 to 1.
At France ’98, Spain experienced even more setbacks that were reminiscent of their earlier attempts. This time, they were eliminated during the first round. This was partially because they did a poor job defending in the opening match against Nigeria. A goalless draw against Paraguay exacerbated their problems. This left Spain uncertain about its qualification hopes. Things started to look up when they won against Bulgaria with a 6 – 1 scoreline, but Paraguay was beating Nigeria – who had already qualified – so Spain was once more eliminated.
Spain took on Paraguay again in 2002 in the group stages. Although they were trailing at half time 1 – 0, they ultimately won with a score of 3 – 1. They then faced the Republic of Ireland, which was settled by a penalty shoot out. Spain’s most recent game, however took place in the quarter final. At this time they lost as a result of penalties from co-host South Korea, though commentators felt the Koreans enjoyed some very generous refereeing.