Washington - Spain are feeling in the same positive mood they were before they won their first World Cup in South Africa four years ago, defender Gerard Pique said on Wednesday as the Iberian nation gear up to defend their title.
“In 2010 we experienced something unforgettable and as far as this World Cup goes the feelings are just as good,” Pique told a news conference ahead of Spain's final warm-up game against El Salvador in Washington on Saturday.
“Nothing has changed except now we have the star on our shirts,” added the Barcelona centre back.
“Maybe the other teams have more respect for us as it's not the same when you come into the tournament as the holders.
“But everything depends on your feelings and they are very good, the team is at a very high level. We have a strong team and we can aim for the top.”
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has retained 16 players from the squad that triumphed in South Africa, the most returned at the following World Cup by any world champion.
La Roja followed up their World Cup success with a second consecutive European Championship victory in 2012 and are among the favourites for the tournament in Brazil which starts in just over a week's time.
Pique said Brazil-born forward Diego Costa, one of the few new additions to the squad, was recovering well from a series of muscle injuries and should be back to full fitness before Spain's opening Group B game against Netherlands on June 13.
The game in Salvador is a repeat of the 2010 final, which Spain won 1-0 after extra time, and their other opponents in the group are Chile and Australia.
“He (Costa) seems in good shape to me, he has a lot of desire,” Pique told reporters.
“You can tell he is going into an important competition with Spain and in Brazil, which will be special for him.
“He is motivated, recovered from his injury and he will be an important part of the team.
“In terms of muscles, he will have to be at peak fitness to perform but he seems fine to me and I expect him to be in perfect shape for the World Cup. There are many days left and there won't be any problem.”