Spain are one of the favourites for the upcoming World Cup in Russia and rightly so with the incredible depth in the squad at Julen Lopetegui’s disposal. The number of world class players in the La Roja squad however will give the boss some tough decisions to make regarding his starting XI.
We’ve put together a side that would be our starting team for Spain come their opening match against Portugal.
GK – David De Gea
The Manchester United goalkeeper was everyone’s first pick and rightly so. De Gea won the Premier League’s Golden Glove award this season after keeping 18 clean sheets in 37 appearances as United finished second behind neighbours Manchester City
RB – Dani Carvajal
Right back is one of the many positions where Spain have so many options but Real Madrid’s Carvajal gets the nod. He has been a first choice at the Bernabeu since making his first team debut in 2013, producing solid performances for Los Blancos as well as the national side. He is expected to make the opening game despite picking up a hamstring injury in last month’s Champions League final against Liverpool.
CB – Sergio Ramos
The right hand side of defence would be completed by another Real Madrid man with Sergio Ramos taking his place at centre back. Ramos is one of the best defenders in world football and his knowledge of Carvajal’s game from their time at Real Madrid, as well as his partnership with Barcelona’s Gerard Pique in the national team makes Ramos another easy choice.
CB – Gerard Pique
As mentioned above, Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos have formed a formidable centre-back pairing at international level despite playing on opposite sides of the El Clasico divide for their club sides. The Barcelona man is regularly booed while on Spain duty due to his views on Catalan independence but with 96 caps to his name, he is one of the main cogs in Spain’s defence and joins Ramos at the back.
LB – Jordi Alba
The second of four Barcelona players in the squad is left back Jordi Alba and he would have a place in our starting XI. The former Valencia full back is renowned for his attacking qualities down the left but he is also strong defensively and slots in on the left alongside Pique as well as Andres Iniesta.
CM – Thiago Alcantara
It’s been a frustrating season for Thiago at Bayern Munich with large parts of his season spent on the sidelines through injury. He came back towards the end however despite many new signings in his position and will be eager to perform in Russia to either regain a starting slot in Bavaria or earn a move back home with old club Barcelona eager to bring him back to the Camp Nou.
CM – Sergio Busquets
Barca man Busquets is one of just four players in our team to have made over 100 caps for his country (Ramos, Iniesta and David Silva the others) which makes him another simple pick. He has been a vital cog both for Spain and Barcelona since making his debuts in the 2008/09 season with his battling midfield work going largely unnoticed to begin with. He does the dirty work to allow the creative players around him flourish which is handy with the talented technical players at Spain’s disposal
CM – Andres Iniesta
It is the end of an era for La Liga and Barcelona with Iniesta confirming his departure to join Japanese side Vissel Kobe after 17 years in Catalonia at the end of the season. It’s also likely to be the end of an era in terms of his involvement with the international team with the midfielder expected to retire after the World Cup. He is still one of the greatest ever players in his position however and will want to exit the international stage with another World Cup winners medal.
RW – David Silva
The 32-year old Manchester City playmaker earns his place in our team after scoring nine goals in 29 appearances for the English Premier League champions this season. He has remained consistent for the national side as well with 35 goals in 122 games since his debut back in 2006 despite his age which should see him given a starting berth by Lopetegui.
CF – Diego Costa
Atletico Madrid forward Costa gets the nod up front ahead of Rodrigo and Iago Aspas despite scoring less goals in La Liga than the other two due to his physical prowess which is required in a Spain team that is otherwise rather lightweight. He does also though know where the goal is, scoring 169 goals in 419 club appearances in Portugal, Spain and England as well as seven in 18 for La Roja and will be a threat in Russia if he can replicate that form.
LW – Isco
Our team is completed by Real Madrid winger Isco on the left of the front three. After joining Los Blancos from Malaga, Isco struggled to get into the side but under Zinedine Zidane he has played an integral part for the Bernabeu side in La Liga and the Champions League which sees him slot into our team.