Spain Soccer game today

Even before side issues are taken into account, the contrast between the Spanish and Salvadoran national soccer teams is as striking as any in soccer today.

Spain has reached unparalleled global heights over six years with an innovative style and a cast employed by the sport’s leading clubs. It will arrive in Brazil on Monday seeking to become the first repeat World Cup champion in 52 years and extend its streak of major international trophies to four.

Salvadoran problems deepened last year when a match-fixing scandal resulted in lifetime bans to 14 players and sanctions against six others.

In his second match in charge, Coach Albert Roca will guide the squad against Spain in a friendly Saturday afternoon at FedEx Field — the first game of a doubleheader that will also feature D.C. United against the Columbus Crew in an MLS regular season match. A crowd of about 60, 000 is expected.

The biggest single-event sports competition on Earth is set to kick off once again. From the reign in Spain to the United States’s fierce competition, here’s what you need to know. (Davin Coburn/The Washington Post)

Roca, a Spaniard hired by the Salvadoran soccer federation last month, said the program has begun to “wash the bad image that has transpired in the last year and bring back happiness to the Salvadoran fans who support the national team.”

Before the opening whistle even sounds, the outcome of Saturday’s game is hardly in doubt. But for El Salvador, the priority is getting back on its feet. It took the first steps Wednesday in suburban Dallas with an admirable performance, a 2-1 defeat to World Cup-bound Ivory Coast.

The margin is not important to Spain either. Six days ahead of its group opener against the Netherlands — a rematch of the 2010 final in Johannesburg — Coach Vicente del Bosque needs to test the fitness of potential starters Diego Costa and Xabi Alonso and provide quality time for several others.

“We want to impose our game but need to be cautious because the opponent will want to attack us, ” he said. “The most important thing for us is that the 23 players are peaking at the right time for the World Cup.”

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