Written by Vidit Bhandarkar
These notes were gathered in preparation for our panel discussion of the favorites and dark horses for this year’s World Cup in Russia.
- Manager: Julen Lopetegui (former Madrid and Barca keeper and part of ‘94 WC squad)
- 18 games managed, 13W, 5D, 0L, 72% win percentage (appointed after Del Bosque in 2016)
- Hopes to unite Spain with WC victory (in reference to Catalonia Referendum)
- 8th in FIFA rankings
- Odds: 7-1 (4th favorite after Germany, Brazil and France)
- Winners of European Group G with Italy, Albania, Israel, Macedonia, and Liechtenstein
- Won 9, drew 1, lost 0
- 14 WC Appearances to date
- Won its only title in 2010
- Group B
- Finished 3rd in their group below Netherlands and Chile in the 2014 WC. Got thrashed 5:1 by the Dutch in a revenge match for the 2010 final.
- Didn’t make it out of the group stage (blamed an aging/tired squad and manager)
- Placed second in a group with winners Croatia, Turkey and the Czech Republic
- Lost to Italy 2-0 in the round of 16 (lots to prove in the 2018 WC)
- Latest friendlies (great qualifying campaign, renewed energy under the new coach; look like world champions again)
- Spain 1-1 Germany
- Spain 6-1 Argentina
- Russia 3-3 Spain
- Goalkeepers: Pepe Reina (Napoli), David De Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao).
- Defenders: Full-backs: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Álvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad). Missing out: Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal), Juanfran (Atlético Madrid), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona) – very surprising. Centre-backs: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Nacho (Real Madrid), Marc Bartra (Borussia Dortmund)
- Midfielders: Central-midfield: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Koke (Atlético Madrid), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Isco (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich). Missing out: Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Ander Herrera (Manchester United) Wide/attacking midfield: David Silva (Manchester City), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Pedro (Chelsea), Suso (AC Milan). Missing out: Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid), Gerard Deulofeu (Spain), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Vitolo (Atletico Madrid)
- Forwards: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo). Missing out: Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), Paco Alcacer (Barcelona), Rodrigo (Valencia), Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao).
- Key Players
- Sergio Ramos (captain fantastic, enroute to overtake Casillas as most capped player. Madrid captain as well. Born to lead. Force to be reckoned with both defensively and offensively off set-pieces)
- David Silva (Won the Premier League with Manchester City this year, arguably one of the best teams to have ever played in the league. Along with De Bruyne, most influential in the team and was captain when Kompany was out with injuries. Loads of experience )
- De Gea (Arguably the best keeper in the world right now. Kept Manchester United in the top 4 with some incredible saves game in and game out. Also broke the record for most number of saves in a single game against Arsenal. Most number of clean sheets in the Premier League, 16. Arguably United’s best player this season, definitely the most consistent.)
- Isco (Has not fully won the faith of club manager Zidane but has always delivered when called upon for both club and country. Performances leave the crowd at a loss for words. Destroyed Italy in the qualifiers with two goals. Verratti says it’s the best performance he has ever witnessed, even better than Messi. Perfect mixture of experience, youth and grace)
- Underrated difference-maker is Sergio Busquets. He has been a constant for Barcelona for the last decade winning every trophy possible with both club and country. He keeps the midfied ticking but his brilliance is large underappreciated. Likely be his last WC at his peak and is absolutely essential for Spain’s success. Coming out of an injury right now but will be fit well in time for the WC.
2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group G. (2018, February 22). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2018_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_%E2%80%93_UEFA_Group_G&oldid=827127037
FIFA.com. (1900, January 1). SPAIN. Retrieved April 29, 2018, from http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/stories/y=2017/m=11/news=spain-2921196.html
FIFA.com. (n.d.). The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking – Ranking Table. Retrieved April 29, 2018, from http://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/ranking-table/men/index.html
Julen Lopetegui – Appointments (Detailed view). (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2018, from http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/julen-lopetegui/stationen/trainer/6615/plus/1
Julen Lopetegui – Official website. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2018, from https://julenlopetegui.com/en/
LaLiga: Lopetegui: I’m convinced that Spain will play in the strongest group of all | MARCA in English. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2018, from http://www.marca.com/en/football/spanish-football/2017/11/30/5a1ff36fca474155438b45ae.html
Matchett, K. (n.d.). Picking Spain’s 2018 World Cup Squad After End of Qualification Campaign. Retrieved April 29, 2018, from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2737676-picking-spains-2018-world-cup-squad-after-end-of-qualification-campaign
Spain Scores & Fixtures – ESPN FC – ESPN FC. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2018, from http://www.espnfc.com/team/spain/164/fixtures
sport, G. (2017, December 1). World Cup 2018: team-by-team guide to all 32 countries. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/dec/01/world-cup-2018-team-by-team-guide
uefa.com. (n.d.-a). FIFA World Cup – Spain. Retrieved April 29, 2018, from https://www.uefa.com/worldcup/season=2018/teams/team=122/index.html
uefa.com. (n.d.-b). UEFA EURO 2016 – History – Spain. Retrieved April 29, 2018, from https://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2016/teams/team=122/matches/index.html