World Cup 2018 Preview - Spain

Sat, Jun 09 2018

Spanish captain Sergio Ramos Credit: Al Robinson

Team: Spain

Manager: Julen Lopetegui

Group: Group B

Other teams in-group: Portugal, Morocco, Iran.

THE SQUAD

The Spanish 2018 World Cup squad is, as expected, extremely strong and on paper looks like one of the favourites to top the pile in Russia.

A combined ten players in Julen Lopetegui’s squad made up from Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, with the likes of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos set to play important parts in this summer’s competition.

Former Chelsea man Diego Costa is one of three Atletico Madrid players in the squad after their Europa League win and second placed finish in La Liga. The hard-working forward is joined by Koke and 23-year-old Saul Niguez in the 23-man panel.

Other Spanish sides represented include Celta Vigo (Iago Aspas), Valencia (Rodrigo Moreno), Real Soceidad (Alvaro Odriozola) and Athletic Bilbao (Kepa Arrizabalaga).

The remainder of the squad is made up of some of the best talent in England, Italy and Germany with David De Gea, Pepe Reina and Thiago Alacantara amongst those also set to travel to Russia in June.

 

The squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Pepe Reina (Napoli), David de Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao)

Defenders: Nacho Fernandez, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Midfielders: Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets (both Barcelona), Saul Niguez, Koke (both Atletico Madrid), Isco, Marco Asensio (both Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), David Silva (Manchester City)

Forwards: Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Rodrigo (Valencia), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid)

 

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Spain topped Group G in the World Cup Qualifiers to book their place in Russia 2018.

They qualified out of a group that included Liechtenstein, Albania, Macdedonia, Israel and Italy (who failed to make Russia).

Lopetegui’s men dropped points just once in qualifying, drawing 1-1 away in Italy on match day two of their qualifying campaign.

 

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Isco (Real Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid) and Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo).

 

WHERE THEY ARE PLAYING AND STAYING (All kick-off times are according to Irish time)

June 15, 19.00: Spain v Portugal, Fisht Olympic Stadium,Sochi.

June 20, 19.00: Spain v Iran, Kazan Arena, Kazan. 

June 25, 29.00: Spain v Morocco, Kaliningra Stadium,  Kaliningrad

Base Camp: Krasnodar.

 

THREE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE TEAM

Spain were unbeaten in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

The likes of Diego Costa and Iago Aspas will be looking to break goal scoring records in Russia. The highest ever amount of goals scored by a Spaniard in a World Cup was five by David Villa in 2010 and Emilio Butragueno in 1986.

Spain’s last trip to Russia ended in an enthralling 3-3 draw with this summer’s World Cup hosts. Jordi Alba scored while Sergio Ramos converted two penalties in last November’s game.

 

THEIR RECENT FORM

Spain 1-1 Switzerland

Spain 6-1 Argentina

Germany 1-1 Spain

 

First game: June 15, 19.00, Sochi, Fisht Olympic Stadium, Spain V Portugal.