Real replace Barcelona as the cradle of Spain’s national team

Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, David Villa and Pedro.

Seven of the 11 who started for Spain in the final of the 2010 World Cup played for Barcelona at the time.

Vicente del Bosque might have been the man to led La Furia Roja to their first ever World Cup, but Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola had, in some way, contributed to their triumph.

Indeed, the link between the Spanish national team and Guardiola’s zeitgeist-setting Barcelona team was strong.

Their dominance went hand in hand, with del Bosque purposefully building his side off a basis provided by the Catalan club.

Without that core of players, Spain almost certainly wouldn’t have dominated international football as they did between 2008 and 2012.

A lot has changed since then.

Spain’s grip on the international game has slipped, dethroned by Germany at the last World Cup.

The national team has endured something of a transitional period, with the likes of Puyol, Xavi and Villa either retired or well into the twilight of their careers.

Del Bosque is gone as well, of course.

Now, the Barcelona core has been replaced with a Real Madrid one.

While the Catalans were once the club of homegrown talent in LaLiga, now their rivals at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu have usurped them as the cradle of Spanish football.

The transition has happened and there has been a shift towards the capital.

Of the 24 players picked for the upcoming friendly matches against Germany and Argentina, only three play for Barcelona – Pique, Iniesta and Jordi Alba.

Contrast that to the six Real Madrid players called up to the squad – Dani Carvajal, Nacho Fernandez, Sergio Ramos, Isco, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez.

What’s more, almost every member of Real Madrid’s Spanish contingent are considered first team figures.

Asensio and Vazquez might not have cemented their place in the Spain team for the World Cup just yet, but their recent form suggests that they will be at the forefront of Julen Lopetegui’s thinking as they head to Russia in June.

What’s more, Real Madrid could provide an even stronger homegrown foundation for the national team in the years to come.

Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente have both struggled this season, but they remain two of the brightest young talents in Spanish football.

It’s entirely possible that they could form a midfield partnership for club and country at some stage in the future, further strengthening Real’s Spanish core.

Del Bosque was smart enough to ride on the back of Barcelona’s largely homegrown success under Guardiola, transplanting the Catalans’ midfield in particular into his Spanish team.

That club chemistry was crucial in carrying Spain to glory at Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, as well as the World Cup in 2010.

They had an understanding that no other national team could match.

Lopetegui would be wise to use the same formula at this summer’s World Cup, using the chemistry between the Real Madrid players in his squad to Spain’s advantage.

As already mentioned, Asensio and Vazquez have a relationship at club level, so perhaps they should be starting figures in Russia.

Nacho has impressed alongside Ramos this season, so that might be another foundation to use.

And Isco could be the link between them all.

There are still difficult decisions for Lopetegui to make all over the pitch, with his decision to omit Alvaro Morata from this week’s squad under particular scrutiny.

Spain are blessed with options in every position from front to back, with the 2010 winners almost certain to be contenders in Russia this summer.

Anything less than an appearance in the final, or at least the semi finals, will be a disappointment.

But Lopetegui must look to the past to plot a route for the future.

The great Spain team of 2010 may have faded, but he can still use the formula that took them to their first World Cup triumph.

Real Madrid are chasing a third successive Champions League title and they’re playing their part in chasing a World Cup too.

 

Source : Marca