La Roja are in the hunt for World Cup victory
If Brazil and Germany are the teams to beat at this year’s World Cup then Spain might just be the team beat them. The Spanish squad is technically gifted and their ability and desire to retain the ball often leaves the opposition chasing shadows. Qualification for Russia 2018 was a breeze for La Roja. The Spanish scored 36 goals en route to the finals, including a 3-0 demolition of Italy at the Bernabéu. The goals continued to flow in the build-up to the World Cup. Argentina were put to the sword when Isco helped himself to a hat-trick in a 6-1 rout. Spain have been labelled by some neutral fans as boring, a label that is somewhat disrespectful and unjust. La Roja’s successes in 2008, 2010 and 2012 wasn’t a fluke.
Julen Lopetegui was appointed in July of 2016. The former U-21 coach set about rebuilding the Spanish side, stripping out the old components and rebuilding from the chassis upwards. Lopetegui, like Joachim Löw and Gareth Southgate, hasn’t been afraid to wave adios to the heroes of yesteryear. Look through Spain’s 23-man squad and you won’t find the ageing Iker Casillas, nor Álvaro Morata or his Chelsea team-mate Pedro.
Sturdy at the back
David de Gea is one of the best custodians in world football. The Manchester United keeper will play behind a number of high-quality defenders, including Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Gerard Piqué and Dani Carvajal. Cristiano Ronaldo will keep them busy in the group opener on Friday. Spain’s first test will be a tough challenge but it will also be a measure of their form. A clean sheet against Portugal will certainly boost confidence.
We are already focused on the World Cup, which is what matters now, we shouldn’t think about anything else. If we do things well, we will have many opportunities to win the title, but we can’t underestimate anything or anyone. David de Gea, Marca.com
Spain are blessed with a number of midfield generals, all are able to change the tempo of a game or create game changing chances. One notable centrocampista is the brilliant Andrés Iniesta. The 34-year-old heads to Russia in search of his second World Cup winners medal. Iniesta delivers. The Real Madrid duo of Isco and Marco Asensio provide Spain with the reassurance that they will continue to have a quality presence in central midfield for years to come. Isco is a key figure for both club and country, his stock will rise, especially if Spain make a sustainable challenge in Russia.
Diego Costa looks resurgent after his return to La Liga. The Atléti forward will use all his experience and determination to unsettle the defence. Iago Aspas had a fruitful season for Celta Vigo, bagging 22 goals. David Silva seems to have been around forever. The Manchester City forward is fresh from Premier League success, he will provide Lopetegui with options in the final third.
Spain quite simply should be aiming for the final, it’s well within their capability. If they can top Group B the reward will be second-round tie against the Group A runners-up, that could well be Russia or Egypt. Spain’s recent form has been impressive and they have every right to fancy their chances at this year’s tournament. The future looks bright as Lopetegui continues to blend the old with the new.