World Cup 2018: Spain’s One to Watch Marco AsensioJune 4, 2018
This Spanish World Cup squad is filled to brim with talent, with many already holding distinguished careers and feared by opponents at the highest level.
There are few who are unknown to fans worldwide, but if there is one player who is not expected to find a regular starting place but has the ability to cause trouble and make a real impact off the bench, then it is Real Madrid’s midfield dynamo Marco Asensio.
Whether he is bamboozling defenders with his mazy and direct running or rifling a 30-yard screamer into the top corner, there is no question that the 22-year-old is already tipped to be one of the best midfielders over the next decade.
He is a typical Spanish midfielder, comfortable working in tight spaces and can spot a pass, yet there are two reasons why he will not be a regular starter in Russia.
Firstly, Asensio was largely and bit-part player for Real Madrid last season. Although he played in 52 matches in all competitions, only 29 were starts, coming off the bench in both El Clasico games against Barcelona.
He was mainly restricted in the Champions League, starting just three of Real Madrid’s 12 fixtures as they went onto win the competition for a third time in a row. While he has the talent, Spain has players who have been regular starters all season long, which falls into the second reason.
La Roja are inundated with skilful midfielders, with the likes of David Silva, Andres Iniesta, Thiago, Koke and Isco all expected to be ahead of him in the pecking order.
Asensio, the impact sub
While starting matches may be tricky for Asensio, his versatility will make him a key asset coming off the bench, able to play behind the striker, as a false nine or down the left flank.
And then there are his goals. If Spain are heading for a defeat, there will be few better to bring on and create a goal out of nothing.
The Spaniard has become an internet with his strikes, as he is known for collecting the ball just inside the opponents’ half before unleashing a belter or charging into the penalty area and chip the approaching goalkeeper.
Barcelona know about his shooting ability after two El Clasico screamers in the past couple of seasons and avid Spanish national football fans will do too, having netted a hat-trick against Macedonia for Under-21s in 2017.
So, whoever faces Spain, they will be wary not to celebrate too early, as this Mallorca-born star will punish them at any opportunity.