With a new generation of young talent ready to take over from the old guard, there are reasons to be positive for fans of Spain this year. Could La Furia Roja claim a second World Cup title in Qatar?
Spain vs. Costa Rica (November 23, 16:00 GMT)
Spain vs. Germany (November 27, 19:00 GMT)
Japan vs. Spain (December 1, 19:00 GMT)
Spain vs. Costa Rica H2H record: Played 3, Won 2, Drawn 1
Spain vs. Germany H2H record: Played 25, Won 8, Drawn 8, Lost 9
Japan vs. Spain H2H record: Played 1, Won 1
Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), Robert Sanchez (Brighton & Hove Albion), David Raya (Brentford)
Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Pau Torres (Villareal), Jose Gaya (Valencia), Eric Garcia (Barcelona), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Hugo Guillamon (Valencia)
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid) Rodri (Manchester City), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Pedri (Barcelona), Gavi (Barcelona), Carlos Soler (Paris Saint-Germain)
Forwards: Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Ferran Torres (Barcelona), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Yeremy Pino (Villareal), Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao)
The only major loss for Spain in the injury department is Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal.
The 25-year-old ruptured his cruciate ligament back in March, and while he has returned to training with his club, Spain manager Luis Enrique clearly felt it was too soon to be taking a gamble on the winger’s fitness.
Rodri: Spain’s unsung hero? / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages
Sergio Busquets has been tasked with controlling the midfield for Spain for well over a decade now, but it might be time to admit that the Barcelona legend’s powers are beginning to wane.
Manchester City star Rodri now holds the key to making this Spain side tick, providing the defensive cover and cool head that will allow the likes of Pedri and Gavi to roam more freely.
Pedri will turn 20 while at the World Cup, just two days after Spain’s opening group game.
Despite his tender years, the Barcelona midfielder has already shown he has the ‘it’ factor. His performances could make the difference for Spain this year.
He might not be flavour of the month at Barcelona, but Spain’s success at this World Cup could hinge on how well Ferran Torres performs.
For all the technical skill this Spain squad possesses, it lacks natural goalscorers. With Alvaro Morata the only striker in the squad, Enrique needs his inside forwards to deliver the goods. Torres will need to add to the 13 goals he’s scored for his country thus far.
At 24 years of age, Olmo has built up quite the reputation at RB Leipzig and a transfer to one of Europe’s biggest clubs is surely on the horizon in the near future.
Before that, he’ll be looking to create chances for the likes of Torres and Morata in Qatar. With such an absence of clear goal threats in the squad, strong technical attackers like Olmo will need to be on top of their game.
Enrique seems fairly set on a typical 4-3-3 formation – perhaps to accomodate all the Barcelona players that make up his squad.
The personnel seems to change game by game, but we can make an educated guess at what a Spain lineup will look like in Qatar.
Spain predicted XI: Simon; Carvajal, Guillamon, Torres, Gaya; Rodri, Koke, Pedri; Olmo, Torres; Morata.
Spain aren’t in terrible form by any means, but their recent results highlight their potential shortcomings.
While their 2-1 defeat to Switzerland in September is their only defeat in the last year, Spain have been forced to scrape to narrow victories in a number of matches and were held to a draw by the likes of the Czech Republic, highlighting their inability to score goals consistently.
Spain’s last five results (all competitions)
Portugal 0-1 Spain
Spain 1-2 Switzerland
Spain 2-0 Czech Republic
Switzerland 0-1 Spain
Czech Republic 2-2 Spain
It’s been ten years since Spain last won a major trophy, and sadly we don’t think that barren run will be coming to an end in Qatar.
Luis Enrique’s side is full of wonderful technicians and passers, and will certainly be capable of controlling games. Unfortunately, it’s just very hard to see where the goals are going to come from in this side.
Alvaro Morata is hardly famed for his consistency in front of goal, while Ferran Torres is coming into the tournament on the back of some truly dreadful form.
Spain should get out of their group, but it’s hard to see them challenging for glory this year.