The Spanish sailed through qualifying, with their demolition of Italy in September being particularly impressive
Spain World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide
“I wouldn’t want to face Spain at the 2018 World Cup,” said Lionel Messi. And by the end of their qualifying campaign, others must have felt the same way. Spain finished top of their group, and ultimately did so with an authority and assuredness that was unexpected after the way they exited the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Euros.
Their progress was virtually secured when they outclassed Italy at the Santiago Bernabeu, going on to collect 28 points and score 36 goals, while conceding just three.
Key Moments in Qualifying
Hammering Liechtenstein 8-0 may not sound much, but Julen Lopetegui’s first game reveals a coach who is thoughtful about tactical shifts and is willing to change things.
Led by Isco, Spain are superb as they beat Italy 3-0 to effectively decide the group.
The Catalan independence referendum, which is declared illegal by the Spanish government, brings conflict to the surface and Gerard Pique is abused when training at Spain’s Las Rozas HQ. Later in the month qualification is confirmed with a 1-0 win in Israel.
Spain World Cup Group
Spain World Cup Friendlies
Spain start their 2018 international warm up matches for the World Cup against Germany next Friday on the 23rd of March, and then follow that up with a tough game against Argentina. Switzerland and Tunisia will follow on the 3rd and 9th of June.
- 23rd March – Germany
- 27th March – Argentina
- 3rd June – Switzerland
- 9th June – Tunisia
Spain World Cup Fixtures
Their toughest game is their first one, Portugal on the 15th of June. Spain should then go on to gain victories against Iran and Morocco on the 20th and 25th.
- 15th June- Portugal
- 20th June – Iran
- 25th June – Morocco
Julen Lopetegui, age 51 (28.08.66)
Appointed after the last World Cup, the former under-21 coach has quietly made changes to the national team and introduced new variants while reinforcing its essence. He has demonstrated a willingness to open his mind to alternatives and bring in unexpected players, both young and old, and has so far sidestepped the inevitable and often affected “controversies”.
Watching Isco take Italy apart, and then glide around the Rosaleda in Spain’s penultimate game of 2017, it seems incredible to think that he didn’t make the final squad in 2014 and 2016. Outstanding this year, he will be the creative heart of the side in 2018.
David Silva has always been there, even if he perhaps didn’t get the recognition he deserved alongside illustrious team-mates like Iniesta and Xavi. He is the top scorer under Lopetegui, with 11 goals. And Jordi Alba is still around as well, flying up and down the wing, head back and legs whirring.
Diego Costa’s move from Chelsea to Atletico Madrid has been delayed by the club’s ban on incoming transfers. The deal will finally go through in January, but having played no club football for the past six months he is in a race to get match fit.
Spain World Cup Squad
Spain are yet to announce their final World Cup squad.
Spain World Cup Injuries
We will update you with any Spanish injuries regularly.
The Unanswered Questions
Can they keep up the current form?
After a recent friendly, Costa Rica’s coach said of Spain: “They move the ball with one touch and at devilish speed.” That will be the key to their game next summer – if they can maintain that speed of circulation at the end of a long season.
Who plays up front?
The short answer is, of course, Alvaro Morata. But Diego Costa is returning. And then there’s Rodrigo, who is scoring goals for Valencia and Spain. Against Italy, they played without a fixed striker – something that even Morata, the “victim” of the tactic, said was a good idea.
Is there room for someone new?
Julen Lopetegui has been very open minded about bringing players in, some call-ups coming seemingly out of the blue, and while the coach has been swift to call on those he worked with at under-21 level, he has also been willing to look beyond those. Even David Villa got a recall.
One “pivot” or two?
While the essence of the team’s approach remains the same, Lopetegui made tactical tweaks throughout qualification. Usually, Sergio Busquets has played alongside another midfielder – usually Koke, sometimes Saul, occasionally Thiago – but at times he plays alone with two “interiors” ahead of him to either side.
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