Spain heads to Qatar, hungry for their first major title in a decade.
The glory of the World Cup in 2010 was surrounded by victories at Euro 2008 and 2012, but the shameful exit from the group stage and the round of 16 dampened their luster, before a defeat in the semi-finals of Euro 2020 against the eventual winner of the European Championship on penalties spoke of recovery.
Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of Spain’s last participation in the World Cup, but Luis Enrique had time to mend tensions and restore identity; Their players averaged 76 percent possession and faced the fewest shots (38) in the European qualifiers, despite their high-risk defence.
An experienced squad has been bolstered by a fresh influx of talent led by Pedri and Jaffe, while the latest squad in September – the first call-ups for Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams and Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias – provided intrigue, even if the injuries were fewer. Familiar feeling.
Luis Enrique, who set the bar high for his Qatar advertisement after a Vuelta-inspired video surfaced last time around, led his side through qualifying as group winners and a late victory in September in Portugal – their first competition since 1934 – earning a place in the Nations League finals. And raise morale at the right time.
Latest international squad for Spain
goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), Robert Sanchez (Brighton), David Raya (Brentford).
Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Diego Llorente (Leeds), Eric Garcia (Barcelona), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Jose Luis Gaya (Valencia) and Hugo Guillamon (Valencia).
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodri (Manchester City), Jaffe (Barcelona), Pedri (Barcelona), Carlos Soler (Paris Saint-Germain), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid).
Attackers: Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain), Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Ferran Torres (Barcelona), Yeremi Pino (Villarreal), Borja Iglesias (Real Betis).
Spain’s other recent call-ups
goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Arnau Tenas (Barcelona B).
Defenders: Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Marcos Alonso (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Paris Saint-Germain), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City).
Midfielders: Thiago (Liverpool), Fabian (Paris Saint-Germain), Dani Olmo (Leipzig), Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad), Pablo Fornals (West Ham), Brice Mendes (Real Sociedad).
Attackers: Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Raul de Tomas (Raio Vallecano), Brahim Diaz (AC Milan), Rodrygo (Leeds United), Adama Traore (Wolves).
Key dates for the World Cup squads
Friday October 21: Preliminary team roster (35-55 players) to be submitted
Monday 14 November: Final list of 23-26 players will be presented
Tuesday 15 November: FIFA officially announces its 32 . squad
World Cup temporary teams explained
(Photo: Getty Images)