History in the World Cup
The tournament in Russia will be Spain's 15th appearance at a FIFA World Cup. The Spaniards have qualified for every edition in the last 40 years. For most of their history, Spain were regarded as perennial under-achievers, having never gone past the quarter finals until their famous "Tiki-Taka" team strolled to the trophy in 2010. World Cup years that end in 8 don't seem to be a good omen for the Spanish - they didn't make it past the group stage in 1978 & 1998 and didn't even play the 1938 and 1958 tournaments. This should not be an issue this time around unless something truly unexpected happens.
The issues Spain faced in the last World Cup could be put down to poor squad management. Del Bosque had not freshened the team up with enough unpredictability and they were duly dumped out of the tournament. Since Lopetegui took over, he has revitalized the squad by integrating young talent such as Lucas Vasquez and the genius, Isco (didn't make the last squad). This Spain are unbeaten since their 2-0 loss to Italy at Euro 2016 - 14 wins and 4 draws. In their last game at the end of March, they hammered a Messi-less Argentina 6-1 in Madrid.
Manager: Julan Lopetegui
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Pepe Reina, Kepa
Defenders: Dani Carvajal, Nacho Fernandez, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcantara, Koke, Saul Niguez, Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Isco, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez.
Forwards: Diego Costa, Iago Aspas, Rodrigo Moreno, Alvaro Morata
Sergio Busquests might be the best deep lying midfielder the world has seen - and that might be under-rating him a little. The Messi-of-the-5-yard-side-pass dictates the tempo of every game he plays in. Finding a pass is easy but Busquets is the master of playing the pass that advantages the team but also sits up just right for a team-mate to use. Isco, David Silva and Iniesta will unlock defenses all day long but it's boring old Busquets that enables them to create.
FIFA : Current - 8
Highest - 1
ELO : Current - 3
Highest - 1
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