The FIFA World Cup 2022 is around the corner and the one team who will be desperate to bring their glory days back will be Spain. Luis Enrique revamped the Spanish team after taking over the charge post their debacle in the 2018 WC. The former Barcelona manager made massive changes to the side and adopted the shades of tiki-taka football to rebuild a new team. Post Xavi-Iniesta era was always going to be difficult for Spain but in Euros last year they found a new prodigy in Pedri who ran the show on his own. He was named the Young Player of the tournament as he completed the tournament with an extraordinary 421/461 pass rate.
Enrique is trying to emulate the success of Vicente del Bosque but he doesn’t have stars like the 2010 Spanish side where they had Xavi and Iniesta to control the midfield, Sergio Ramos, Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique to hold the defence, David Villa and Fernando Torres to put the ball past the net and a Wall in form of Iker Casillas to save the goal.
Enrique didn’t shy away from making the tough calls as he didn’t pick the likes of Sergio Ramos, David de Gea and Thiago Alcantara in the squad.
The goalkeeper is the first attacker in modern-day football and Enrique has preferred Unai Simon over the Manchester United gloves man who lacked the ability to play the short balls. While he picked Eric Garcia over World Champion Ramos who didn’t fit into Enrique’s philosophy. While Thiago hasn’t been at his best this season for struggling Liverpool as other midfielders got the nod over him.
The new-age Spanish side lacks such stars but they have the quality to light up Qatar with their attractive possession-based football which grabbed attention during Euros 2020 and UEFA Nations League 2020–21.
La Roja has brought back the possession-based football in their approach and they have some quality passers in the defensive department. Aymeric Laporte has developed under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, while there is still doubt over the defensive abilities of Garcia who is good with the ball going forward but struggles at the back under pressure situations. They have Cesar Azpilicueta at the right-back who has all the experience in the world to get the job done. He will also be instrumental in the back four as a defensive leader. Jose Gaya and Jordi Alba will fight for the position at left back spot.
In the midfield, Enrique has the Barca trio - Pedri, Gavi and Sergio Busquets to embrace his philosophy well. They have all the qualities to trouble the position but looking at Barcelona’s recent performances Busquets has crumbled under pressure situations. Rodri Hernandez is another world-class midfielder in the Spanish side but Enrique has to make a tough call while choosing between him and skipper Busquets.
Meanwhile, Spain lacked firepower in the attacking department as compared it other several biggies. With the likes of Alvaro Morata, Ferran Torres, Marco Asensio and Pablo Sarabia, Enrique has taken a risk of picking some out of form stars. Dani Olmo is the best bet for Spain to get some crucial goals as Ansu Fati is still very young after recovering from knee injury he hasn’t done much noticeable at Barcelona apart from wearing the number 10 jersey.
The 2010 World Cup champions frustrate the opponents by keeping the ball for a long period of time on the field. They don’t provide much space for the opponents to attack but they often find it difficult to get the final pass.
Morata is expected to be the main man at strike force with Torres and Olmo at the flanks but it will be Pedri’s job to make things easy for them by finding the right passes. He is 19-year-old but has the maturity of any world class midfielder which makes him the most crucial part of the Enrique setup.
There are no doubts that Spain will stick to their philosophy in the World Cup but it will be interesting to see how will they cope ups with teams like France, Brazil and Argentina who are good with counter-pressing.
Goalkeepers: Unai Simon, Robert Sanchez, David Raya
Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta, Dani Carvajal, Eric Garcia, Hugo Guillamon, Pau Torres, Aymeric Laporte, Jordi Alba, Jose Gaya
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Rodri Hernandez, Gavi, Carlos Soler, Marcos Llorente, Pedri Gonzalez, Koke Resurreccion
Forwards: Ferran Torres, Nico Williams, Yeremi Pino Alvaro Morata, Marco Asensio, Pablo Sarabia, Dani Olmo, Ansu Fati
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