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FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Spain eye resurgence after last horror show

Spain crashed out in the group stages in 2014 but a resurgence of form under new coach Julen Lopetegui has made them look like a team reborn and they will aim to carry on that form in the FIFA World Cup 2018.

football Updated: Jun 03, 2018 12:52 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA World Cup 2018,Spain team profile,Spain national football team
The Spain national football team train at the City of Football in Las Rozas near Madrid on May 31, 2018. (AFP)

FIFA World Cup history: Qualified 14 times; best – champions (2010)

Head coach: Julen Lopetegui

Qualifying route: UEFA Group G winners

Squad (final): Goalkeepers - David de Gea, Pepe Reina, Kepa Arrizabalaga; Defenders - Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Odriozola, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Nacho, Cesar Azpilicueta, Jordi Alba, Nacho Monreal; Midfielders - Sergio Busquets, Saul Niquez, Koke, Thiago Alcantara, Andres Iniesta, David Silva; Forwards - Isco, Marcio Asensio, Lucas Vazquez, Iago Aspas, Rodrigo, Diego Costa.

When it comes to modern football, any discussion is incomplete without mentioning the dominance of Spain from 2008 to 2012. With two European championships and the FIFA World Cup 2010 title under their belt, the world was mesmerised by their ‘tiki-taka’ brand of football. (FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 FULL SCHEDULE)

It looked like the Iberian giants were virtually unstoppable. However, it all changed in the FIFA World Cup 2014.

READ | FIFA World Cup performances still the benchmark for football greatness

Spain, who came into the tournament as defending champions, were humiliated 1-5 by Netherlands in the first game. Things did not improve for Vicente Del Bosque’s men as they were beaten 0-2 by Chile and although they defeated Australia, it will too late as they crashed out in the group stages.

However, they are back with a point to prove in the competition and with Portugal, Iran and Morocco in their group, they will be quite confident of their chances of making the knockout stages. Their status as favourites can actually be gauged by the abundance of talent that is present in the team.

Julen Lopetegui’s side boasts of one of the strongest mid-fields in the tournament as the old warhorses - Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Sergio Busquets - are backed by the likes Saul, Koke, Marco Asensio, Isco and Thiago.

Sergio Ramos leads an experienced backline with big names like Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique while Diego Costa is likely to be the first choice striker of the star-studded team. When it comes goalkeeping, Spain have one of the world’s best custodians in David de Gea.

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Spain are unbeaten since Lopetegui’s arrival, having achieved 13 wins and 5 draws in 18 games. In their last two matches, they drew 1-1 with current world champions Germany, and impressively defeated Argentina 6-1, evoking memories of the all-conquering team from just a few years ago.

Three key players

David De Gea - The Manchester United goalkeeper is widely considered to be one of the best custodians in the modern era and his numbers speak for themselves. Spain conceded only three goals in 10 matches in the World Cup qualifiers and De Gea played a huge role in ensuring Spain topped the group. De Gea has already solidified his position in the Spain football team and in Russia, the 27-year old will be looking to guide his team to their second FIFA World Cup title.

Isco - The 26-year old may have had an uneven season at Real Madrid, but there is hardly any questions about his talent. The midfielder was Spain’s top goalscorer with five goals in the qualifiers and one of his best performances this season came when he grabbed a hat-trick against Argentina. Isco will once again be trusted with creating attacks from the midfield and he is clearly up to the task.

David Silva - The veteran is currently the highest goalscorer in this team (35) and his experience will be invaluable in Russia.With the team lacking experienced strikers and Diego Costa still struggling, Silva provides a much-needed alternative to the coach. The Manchester City star is no stranger to playing at the top of the field and when time comes, he can easily lead the Spanish attack.

First Published: Jun 03, 2018 12:39 IST