FIFA World Cup 2022: Decoding the squad of Spain
Spain's head coach Luis Enrique has announced his 26-man squad for the FIFA World Cup 2022. The 2010 World Cup winners have just the right balance in terms of youth and experience. Barcelona trio of Ansu Fati, Gavi, and Pedri will look to make an impression. Spain share Group E alongside Costa Rica, Japan, and four-time winners Germany. Here we decode their squad.
Spain's squad: GKs and defenders
Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Club), Robert Sanchez (Brighton & Hove Albion), David Raya (Brentford FC). Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea FC), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Eric Garcia (FC Barcelona), Hugo Guillamon (Valencia CF), Pau Torres (Villarreal CF), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Jordi Alba (FC Barcelona), Jose Gaya (Valencia CF).
Spain squad: Midfielders and forwards
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Rodri Hernandez (Manchester City), Gavi (FC Barcelona), Carlos Soler (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Pedri Gonzalez (FC Barcelona), Koke Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid). Forwards: Ferran Torres (FC Barcelona), Nico Williams (Athletic Club), Yeremi Pino (Villarreal CF), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Ansu Fati (FC Barcelona).
Notable omissions from the squad
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea wasn't even an option for Enrique, rather shockingly. Veteran defender Sergio Ramos was side-lined, despite being a rock at the heart of the defense for Paris Saint-Germain in 2022-23. His omission has become a major talking point. Barcelona defender Marcos Alonso and Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara have been ignored as well, besides Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Unai Simon is Spain's numero uno choice
Athletic Club keeper Unai Simon is Enrique's premium choice as number one in goal. Simon has had a terrific run in 2022-23, including the Nations League. He has kept nine clean sheets across 20 matches. Robert Sanchez and David Raya are decent back-ups.
Spain have a solid defensive line
Jordi Alba will start at left-back and remains a threat with surging run ahead. Jose Gaya serves as his back-up. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) and Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid) can offer resistance on the right. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City) hasn't had much game-time but offers value at the center alongside Villarreal ace Pau Torres. Hugo Guillamon and Eric Garcia are sound options as back-ups.
How does Spain's midfield look like?
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) and Man City's Rodri are protective shields for Barcelona in midfield. Atletico Madrid's Koke brings plenty to the table as well. Spain are blessed with youngsters Gavi and Pedri, who will be used a lot by Enrique. Their passing range and ability to make intelligent runs will suit Spain. Carlos Soler and Marcus Llorente are other valuable picks for Enrique.
How does Spain's attack look like?
Alvaro Morata, who has scored five goals in La Liga 2022-23, will be a threat up front. He has able support from Pablo Sarabia (PSG) and Ferran Torres (Barcelona) in the wings, forming Spain's frontline for the WC. Fati (Barcelona) and Marcus Asensio (Real Madrid) are quality options on the flanks as well. Yeremy Pino and Nico Williams complete Spain's attack.
Can Enrique help Spain deliver?
In the 2014 World Cup, Spain couldn't make it past the group stages. In 2018, Spain were eliminated by hosts Russia in the round of 16. However, under Enrique, the team has impressed. Spain qualified for the semi-finals of the Euro 2020 and the final of the UEFA Nations League last year. Spain have also progressed to the semis of 2022-23 Nations League Finals.
Spain's Probable XI for 2022 WC
Spain will open their campaign against Costa Rica on November 23. Spain's Predicted XI for the fixture (4-3-3): Unai Simon; Dani Carvajal, Pau Torres, Aymeric Laporte, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Rodri, Pedri; Pablo Sarabia, Alvaro Morata, Ferran Torres.