Spain to reinstate their dominance
Spain are and have always been one of the most dominant footballing nations in the world. This year in Russia, Spain have been placed in group B along with Portugal, Iran, and Morocco. In 2008 and 2012 Spain won the European Championships, and in 2010 scooped the big prize of the world cup. In previous years the Spaniards have fallen below their targets, getting knocked out in the group stages in the 2014 world cup and in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.
The One to Eleven:
Spain’s starting eleven is filled with stars for their club, and are looking to shine for their country as well. La Roja has had a star-studded starting XI for as long as anyone can remember. The reds used to only have talents in their own league, but now Spanish players are highly in demand all the top leagues. This has opened a door for Spanish players to improve different talents in different leagues. Spain is looking to play their normal 4-3-3 holding as this allows them to control the game.
Starting with the goalkeeper, David de Gea. This will come as no surprise to anybody, as the Manchester United keeper already has 27 caps and will surely be the starting keeper for Spain. The back line will have Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba. Carvajal and Alba, are blisteringly fast and will control the wide areas of the pitch, whilst Ramos and Pique will be the two centre-halves. These defenders are quite experienced and will most likely be starters in Russia.
The midfield will most likely comprise of Thiago Alcantara and Koké. Thiago and Koke are both great box-to-box players, but Thiago will likely be dropping in as the defensive midfielder. He has shown last season for Bayern that he has the ability to control the game from the back. Koké will then be allowed to go forward and create chances for the front 3. The Barcelona legend has not finished his stint at Spain yet, looking to have one last stand. Andres Iniesta is likely to be the 3rd central midfielder. Iniesta will likely sit in the middle of the pitch and use his amazing vision to create chances from the centre or out wide to feed in the clinical attack Spain have.
The front 3 will comprise of Isco Alcaron down the right, Marco Asensio down the left and the target man Diego Costa as the centre-forward. It is near impossible to choose the front 3, as Spain have so many options up front. This front three has had much success in the world cup qualifiers. This is the combination Lopetegui is likely to favour due to his past selections.
Spain’s depth truly is staggering. Lopetegui struggles to keep the same line-up every match due to every player being very similarly skilled. To replace Diego Costa, there is Alvaro Morata, Rodrigo, and Iago Aspas. Replace either of the wingers is not a problem as they have good options in Vitolo, Pedro and Gerard Deulofeu. In the midfield, they have Sergio Busquets and David Silva, both underrated players that could break into the starting eleven. The back line barely rotates. Considering that on the bench they have Cesar Azpilicueta this shows the quality of Spain’s defence. In net, they could also use Sergio Rico, Sergio Asenjo, and Kepa Arrizabalaga. Spain has a plethora of backup options that could easily break into the first team.
Julen Lopetegui has been the manager of Spain since 2016, managing Porto before taking the burden of leading the Spanish National Team. In his previous run with Porto from 2014-16, he came 2nd narrowly missing out on Benefica and came 3rd in the following season. His appointment as manager was a shock to a lot of people. Lopetegui is not a very famous manager, nor is he very experienced but it was due to the desperation of the Spanish FA needing a manager, that he was signed.
Style of Play
Spain are well known for their playstyle. It is their one factor that separates them from the competition, although many other teams are also using the Spanish style of play due to their success. Spain has managed through their years to keep their quick passing play, known as tiki-taka. They play with 1-2 touches and pass the ball around until they find a gap in the opposition’s defence which they capitalise on by drawing the defender out by playing a quick 1-2 and the Spanish attacker is past the defensive line. This requires great vision from the midfield as well as patience to be able to hold the ball. They often play very disciplined football, with the fullbacks staying back, only getting forward to give the midfield more passing options.
Spain are a team that is definitely threatening to win the world cup and considering their group, they should be topping it considering their only threat is Portugal. Spain have the ability to get to the finals in Russia this year.