Can the defending world champions retain their position as the world's number 1?

Spanish football has everything; the worlds strongest league, boasting the world's top two players no less, a team that strikes fear into the hearts of opponents everywhere, and distinguish of being recognized as the best football team currently walking this earth.  How then, can this team diminutive football geniuses have any doubters?

The answer starts with the heartbeat of the Spanish side, a 5 foot 7 inch[4210] man known simply as Xavi.  Recognized as one of, if not the best, midfielders in the world today, Xavi has for years been the catalyst for the Spanish attack.  Recently however, some have come to doubt the little genius can continue to play the type of football that has made Spain the team to beat in world football.  Can advancing age slow down Xavi? Not likely.

Since making his début for Spain in 2002[4211] Xavi has been a fixture in the Spanish midfield.  His ability to seemingly predict teammates runs and movements has led to amassing a large amount of assists and winning the hearts of Spanish fans everywhere.  In this years European Championship however, Xavi has put in less than convincing performances.

Xavi(103980)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Managing only three assists[4212] thus far, a facit of football that the Spaniard has become renowned for, Xavi does seem to be showing signs of age.  He may however, not be solely to blame for his clear drop off in form.  Spain at the moment lacks a consistent striker.

Enter Fernando Torres.  Once the golden child of both Spain and his club team Liverpool, Torres has become the ugly stepson since moving to Chelsea on a 50 million pound transfer fee.  His current drop in form has led Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque to play Cesc Fabregas, an attacking midfielder, in the role of a false nine.  Lacking a consistent striker to link with, one cannot blame only Xavi for the lack of assists, but also his teammates for the lack of finishes.

At the moment, Spanish football is undergoing a uncharacteristic dip in form.  But let us not forget that the team is still in the Semi-finals of the European Championship, David Villa is still sidelined by injury, and La Liga is still home to the a plethora of up and coming talent.  Spain may not seem the unstoppable force known in the past few years, but do not discount the defending world champions quite yet.