13 Jun 2009

Spain going for record against All Whites

6:02 am on 13 June 2009

Rampant Spain are gunning to boost their phenomenal 32-match unbeaten streak in their Confederations Cup opener against football minnows New Zealand on Sunday.

The European champions are fired up to lift their first ever FIFA trophy as well as overturn Brazil's world record 35-matches without defeat between 1993 and 1996.

Veteran coach Vicente del Bosque, who replaced Luis Aragones after the Euro 2008 final triumph, should have little to fear from a team ranked 81 places below them, but there is no room for complacency.

The All Whites showed they can be a danger if given space in their narrow 4-3 defeat to world champions Italy in a warm-up match this week.

On paper, Spain, who have not lost since November 2006, have too much ammunition.

With the exception of Andres Iniesta, who has pulled out injured, Del Bosque has at his disposal a glittering array of talent headed by Fernando Torres, the Liverpool striker who sunk Germany in the Euro final.

And then there is Torres's strike partner David Villa, who with four goals ended up as the Euro's top scorer despite the Valencia marksman missing the final itself with injury.

In midfield are the likes of Premier League stars Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso and Barcelona's Xavi while his teammate Carles Puyol and Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos feature in defence with the commanding presence of Ramos' teammate, Iker Casillas, in goal.

The pressure to perform, and the cold conditions in the northwest mining town of Rustenburg, are likely to be their only hurdles to posting another victory.

While Spain are playing their first Confederations Cup, New Zealand have been in the tournament twice before -- in Mexico in 1999 and France in 2003.

But they have a sorry record. In their six matches they have failed to pick up a point, scoring just two goals.