With the first game of the Russia 2018 World Cup less than one month away at this point, it is time to have a look at Spain’s potential squad. National team manager Julen Lopetegui is expected to send his preliminary 35 man list to FIFA next Monday (21st May). Here we will take a look at what players are guaranteed to make this list, who are maybes and those on the fringes also. Of course this list will also be cut down to 23 before the start of the World Cup but additions cannot be added beyond the original 35.
The vast majority of the expected squad will be from Spain’s most recent game in their 6-1 drubbing of Argentina. Starting with the goalkeepers – and least contested area – David De Gea, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Pepe Reina are expected to get the nod. Villarreal’s Sergio Asenjo and Sevilla’s Sergio Rico will be left disappointed to be excluded but Lopetegui has shown his preference for the three men mentioned.
Moving onto the defenders, there are a few places up for grabs. The certainties to be on the plane to Russia are: Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba. This will undoubtedly be the starting four in defense also for the first game against neighbours Portugal. The maybes in this area of the pitch and likely to make the squad include; Marc Bartra, Álvaro Odriozola and Nacho Fernandez. After these, Sergi Roberto, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Hector Bellerin and Jose Gaya will all be fighting for a place.
Famed for being one of the most attractive sides to watch in world football over the last decade, Spain’s national team has been built largely around it’s midfield wonders. Similar to the defense, there are a number of places set in stone with only a few spaces up for grabs. The guarantees include; Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcantara, Saul Niguez, Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Isco and Marco Asensio. The maybes include Lucas Vazquez, Koke, Rodri, Dani Parejo. With the likes of Vitolo, Asier Illarramendi, Javi Martinez, Jose Callejon, Suso and Cesc Fabregas scrapping for a chance.
Moving toward the forwards and things get a little tricky. Easily the area with the greatest variety, only Diego Costa and Iago Aspas can be seen as certainties to be on the plane to Russia next month. Due to Alvaro Morata being who he is, he will be included in the maybe pile. Along with the former Real Madrid striker is Rodrigo after a fantastic season with Valencia. Gerard Moreno and Mariano Diaz currently sit on the fringes. Even though Gerard Moreno had a spectacular season – scoring 46% of Espanyol’s La Liga goals this season – I expect Alvaro Morata to be picked before the 26 year old.
The number of players mentioned above comes to 40, meaning even five of these are going to miss out on the preliminary squad. Sergio Asenjo and Sergio Rico will probably be left behind along with Vitolo, Fabregas and Mariano Diaz.
To recap, the expected guarantees for Lopetegui’s 35 man squad are as follows: De Gea, Kepa, Reina, Carvajal, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Busquets, Isco, Thiago, Iniesta, Saul, Silva, Asensio, Aspas and Costa.
The maybes includes: Bartra, Odriozola, Nacho, Vazquez, Koke, Rodri, Dani Parejo, Morata and Rodrigo.
This leaves Roberto, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Bellerin, Gaya, Illarramendi, Javi Martinez, Callejon, Suso and Moreno fighting to earn a slim chance of being in the final 23 man squad.