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World Cup: Spain team profile

Following their exit at the last-16 stage of the 2018 World Cup, Spain bounced back with a run to the Euro 2020 semi-finals and are considered by some to be dark horses for the trophy in Qatar.

Spain's golden age came to an end a decade ago with victory at Euro 2012, but the country's younger generation shows plenty of promise and appears to be in good hands with Luis Enrique in charge of La Roja.

Strong performances at the most recent European Championship and the Nations League suggest this is a team on the up and they are 8/1 to win the World Cup with only four other nations ahead of them in the betting.

But Spain's biggest drawback remains a lack of star quality in the final third and likely starting forward Alvaro Morata is a 50/1 outsider to win the Golden Boot.

WhatWorld Cup
WhereQatar
When20th November - 18th December 2022
How to watchAll matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV
OddsBrazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Argentina 7/1, Spain 8/1

Spain final 26-man squad:

Luis Enrique named his final 26-man squad on 11th November.

Goalkeepers:

  • Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao)
  • Robert Sanchez (Brighton)
  • David Raya (Brentford)

Defenders:

  • Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
  • Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
  • Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
  • Pau Torres (Villarreal)
  • Alejandro Balde (Barcelona)
  • Eric Garcia (Barcelona)
  • Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)
  • Hugo Guillamon (Valencia)

Midfielders:

  • Sergio Busquets (c) Barcelona
  • Koke (Atletico Madrid)
  • Rodri (Manchester City)
  • Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid)
  • Pedri (Barcelona)
  • Gavi (Barcelona)
  • Carlos Soler (Paris Saint-Germain)

Forwards:

  • Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid)
  • Ferran Torres (Barcelona)
  • Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)
  • Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig)
  • Yeremy Pino (Villarreal)
  • Ansu Fati (Barcelona)
  • Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao)

What is Spain's World Cup record?

Spain first made an impression at the World Cup when making the semi-finals of the 1950 tournament in Brazil, although only 13 teams were involved on that occasion.

The next time they managed to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup was in 2010, when they lifted the trophy for the first ever time in South Africa, courtesy of Andres Iniesta's extra-time strike against the Netherlands in the final.

They lost their opening match of that World Cup against Switzerland but their revolutionary tiki-taka football carried them through the knockout stages, during which they did not concede.

Since then, though, La Roja have been underwhelming, crashing out in the group stage in 2014 and losing to tournament hosts Russia on penalties in the last 16 four years later.

PositionYear
Winners

2010

Fourth place

1950

Quarter-finals

1934, 1986, 1994, 2002

Second group stage1982
Last 16

1990, 2006, 2018

Group stage

1962, 1966, 1978, 1998, 2014

How did Spain qualify?

Qualifying was pretty straightforward for Spain, who won six of their eight matches in Group B.

They finished four points clear of Sweden, who had to settle for a place in the play-offs, but were the only team to beat Spain during qualification, prevailing 2-1 in Solna in September last year.

Who is in Spain's group?

Spain have been dealt a tough hand at this year's World Cup in Qatar with 2014 World Cup winners Germany joining them along with Costa Rica and Japan in Group E.

They get their campaign underway against Costa Rica in Doha before what is arguably the match of the group stage between them and Germany in Al Khor on 27th November.

That game will likely play a key role in determining which nation tops Group E, with Spain 5/6 to do so and Germany 6/5, while La Roja are 11/2 to suffer a shock group-stage exit in Qatar.

There is great incentive for Spain to finish top of the pile in their section with the runners-up in Group E set to meet the winners of Group F, who will most likely be Belgium, in the tournament's last 16.

If Spain were to place first in Group E, they would play the second-placed side in Group F, which also features Canada, Morocco and beaten 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

Who is Spain's manager?

Former Roma and Celta Vigo boss Luis Enrique led Barcelona to the treble in his first season in charge back in 2014-15 and won one more La Liga title and two Copa del Reys before leaving the Catalan club in 2017.

He took the reins as Spain boss shortly after the team's exit at the 2018 World Cup and began his tenure with an away win over England in the Nations League.

The following year, Enrique took some time away from the role due to personal reasons but returned in November 2019 and has since led his country to the last four at Euro 2020 and the final of the 2020-21 Nations League.

Related World Cup Group E News

World Cup - Football: Group E preview

World Cup - Football: Costa Rica team profile

World Cup - Football: Germany team profile

World Cup - Football: Japan team profile

Who is Spain's star player?

A key aspect of this Spain team is their cohesion and the lack of a single star player but the individual who gets the pulses of fans racing the most is young midfielder Pedri.

Voted Young Player of the Tournament at Euro 2020, Barcelona starlet Pedri is an archetypal Spanish central midfielder with expert vision and superb stamina.

The 19-year-old's ability to dictate the tempo of a match will be key for Spain in Qatar.

Who could be Spain's breakout star?

He is already pretty well-known but Pedri's midfield partner Gavi will surely go from strength to strength at this year's World Cup, having made 47 appearances for Barcelona in all competitions in the 2021-22 season.

A product of the iconic La Masia academy, Gavi's idol is thought to be Italian Marco Verratti and the young Spaniard is a workhorse who likes to run the game from a deeper role.

What is Spain's predicted line-up and tactics?

Spain predicted line-up (4-3-3): Unai Simon; Dani Carvajal, Aymeric Laporte, Pau Torres, Jordi Alba; Koke, Rodri, Pedri; Ferran Torres, Alvaro Morata, Dani Olmo.

One thing to know about manager Enrique is he is stubborn and unlikely to stray too far from his possession-focused philosophy, meaning a 4-3-3 set-up is likely.

Spain's main issue is who will be deployed through the middle of the attack and, despite having failed to impress for La Roja for some time, Morata still looks the most likely to take up that position.

Their high line remains an issue given their defence is mediocre and that puts a lot of pressure on star centre-back Aymeric Laporte.

How far can Spain go in Qatar?

Although it is a tough section, Spain should get out of the group, as they have done in four of the last five World Cups.

And although they should strive for top spot in Group E, they should be fancied to progress past any of the teams in Group F in the last-16 if they are at their best.

But the likes of Brazil or Portugal could await them in the quarter-finals and Spain are 2/1 to exit at this stage of the tournament with their lack of quality in both boxes likely to hold them back.

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