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Spain's World Cup hopes: Del Bosque's toughest job

Spain's World Cup hopes: Del Bosque's toughest job

After successfully handling what may be the toughest job in club football at Real Madrid, Vicente del Bosque is up against his most difficult assignment yet as coach of Spain _ taming the hopes of an entire nation ahead of the World Cup.
The European champions go to South Africa as one of the favorites, an unfamiliar position that has unleashed an air of confidence inside the football-mad country ahead of a tournament that has led to so many disappointments in the past.
Del Bosque will lead what is likely Spain's best-ever squad of players, a group that has been nearly unbeatable since a second round loss to France at the last World Cup in Germany.
"We need to be cautious," Del Bosque has said about the World Cup. "We need to put the brakes on this euphoria and these dreams. ... Within the team we cannot breed such exaggerated enthusiasm of thinking we are the best."
Del Bosque hasn't tinkered with the formula that helped Spain beat Germany 1-0 in the 2008 European Championship final in Vienna, a victory that snapped a 44-year drought in major championships.
"Spain is not going in (to the World Cup) the same way as it has in the past," Del Bosque said.
Win or lose, the Spanish football federation has faith in the 59-year-old Salamanca native, who will guide Spain through the 2012 European Championship regardless of what happens at the World Cup.
In 1999, Del Bosque took over for John Toshack at Real Madrid and went on to win two Champions League trophies, two Spanish league titles and Intercontinental Cup and European Supercup triumphs in four seasons.
He got the most out of a "galactico" lineup that included Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo by incorporating the stars into a unit, something that Del Bosque has always put importance on.
"Every coach has his own style, his way of being and a guy who normally leads the group has different types of players. There are some that are lovable, others less so, some who are impulsive and others who are not as much," Del Bosque said. "What you need to be sure of is that the group works well. There are no unique recipes and, fortunately, things have gone well for us."
In the 22 games since replacing Luis Aragones after Euro 2008, Del Bosque has only one loss _ a 2-0 setback against the United States at last year's Confederations Cup. Del Bosque called the result an "accident," and Spain easily recovered to finish World Cup qualifying with an unbeaten record.
Drawn alongside Chile, Honduras and Switzerland in Group H, Spain is expected to advance to reach the second round, where the team could face either Brazil or Portugal.