The Spain World Cup 2022 squad has been announced, with manager Luis Enrique hoping a mix of youth and experience can help the team win the tournament come December 18.
Spain have been drawn into Group E at the Qatar World Cup, and will face Germany, Japan and Costa Rica in what could all prove tough fixtures.
They managed to easily qualify for the tournament, despite a draw and a defeat from their eight games this time around representing one of their worst campaigns since Euro 92, the last major tournament they missed. They always have a gifted squad packed with elite playmakers, and they always seem to pass the opposition into bleary-eyed submission, making them arguably one of the most predictable international teams.
The possession-based philosophy that yielded success in World Cup 2010 and Euro 2008 and 2012 remains, even if Xavi, Iniesta and Co have departed. Twelve years on from South Africa, the only world champion left is Sergio Busquets.
At 34, Busquets won't always play 90 minutes, nor perhaps even start, but with Rodri a luxury alternative, it hardly matters to how Spain play. What Enrique needs is Busquets on the pitch for the vital moments, whether that's guiding the side to a lead at the hour mark or as a finisher to see out the final 20 minutes.
Barcelona teens Pedri and Gavi, plus PSG's pugnacious Carlos Soler and Atletico Madrid's versatile Marcos Llorente, provide one of the tournament's finest midfields.
The rest is more problematic. Spain's defence conceded only five times in qualifying, but Enrique is unsure of his best combination. Should Dani Carvajal or Cesar Azpilicueta start at right-back? Who partners Aymeric Laporte in the centre: the unconvincing Eric Garcia, or another left-footer in Pau Torres?
Up front, Ferran Torres - top scorer in qualifying - is back on the Barcelona periphery and Alvaro Morata remains unconvincing, despite his last-minute winner against Portugal taking La Roja to next year's Nations League finals.
After being knocked out of major tournaments on penalties in 1986, 1996 and 2002, a flattering-to-deceive Spain suffered the same fate against at Russia 2018 and Euro 2020. La Roja fans must be thinking, 'Not again?'
Spain World Cup 2022 squad
Spain World Cup 2022 squad: The final 26-man team
- GK: Unai Simon, Athletic Bilbao
- GK: Robert Sanchez, Brighton
- GK: David Raya, Brentford
- DF: Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea
- DF: Dani Carvajal, Real Madrid
- DF: Eric Garcia, Barcelona
- DF: Pau Torres, Villarreal
- DF: Jordi Alba, Barcelona
- DF: Jose Luis Gaya, Valencia
- DF: Hugo Guillamon, Valencia
- DF: Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City
- MF: Sergio Busquets, Barcelona
- MF: Rodri, Manchester City
- MF: Gavi, Barcelona
- MF: Pedri, Barcelona
- MF: Carlos Soler, PSG
- MF: Koke, Atletico Madrid
- MF: Marcos Llorente, Atletico Madrid
- FW: Pablo Sarabia, PSG
- FW: Nico Williams, Athletic Bilbao
- FW: Marco Asensio, Real Madrid
- FW: Alvaro Morata, Atletico Madrid
- FW: Ferran Torres, Barcelona
- FW: Yeremy Pino, Villarreal
- FW: Danny Olmo, RB Leipzig
Here are Spain's World Cup 2022 top scorers so far:
2 goals – Ferran Torres
1 goal – Dani Olmo
Yellow cards and suspensions
Here are Spain's World Cup yellow cards so far:
1 yellow card - Sergio Busquets
Who is the Spain manager for the 2022 World Cup?
Luis Enrique has been in charge since July 2018, except for the four months in 2019 he spent caring for his dying daughter, after which he ditched assistant Roberto Moreno for being "disloyal" in his stead. As a former Barcelona player and treble-winning manager, Enrique has the perfect profile and playing philosophy to manage Spain.
Spain star player
Who is Spain's best player?
Pedri played almost every minute at Euro 2020, then made it all the way to the Olympic final a matter of weeks later, so his injury woes in 2021/22 were hardly a surprise. The Barcelona midfielder, who will turn 20 in Qatar, instantly wooed Enrique with his flawless technique and vision - the boss sees Pedri as his Xavi and Iniesta rolled into one.
How many players are Spain allowed to take to the 2022 World Cup?
National managers were allowed to bring 26 players to last summer’s European Championship for the first time at a major tournament, as a special measure brought in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now it has been announced that 26-player squads will return for the Qatar World Cup, an expansion from the usual 23-man teams.
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