Nine Spanish players started both games, against Germany and Argentina, in the international friendlies. Spain play Portugal in their first game in Russia, on 15 June.
Spain’s games against Germany and Argentina revealed a fair amount ahead of the World Cup in Russia this summer. Despite being ‘only’ friendlies (tell that to the Argentinian players who were brutally fouling the Spaniards at the end of their 6-1 thrashing) Lopetegui showed he pretty much knows his preferred starting XI, the side he hopes will head out against Portugal in Sochi on 15 June in Spain’s opening World Cup match. In the two games nine players started both: De Gea; Carvajal, Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Koke, Thiago, Iniesta and Isco, and Silva would have done so too, had he not been forced out.
Lopetegui’s Spain side for the World Cup
In goals, De Gea, with a back-line of Carvajal, Piqué, Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba. Lopetegui’s Spain has only conceded 12 goals in 17 games, and the coach has achieved his main goal: build the team from the back, with a solid defensive base.
In the midfield, the guaranteed names are Busquets, Iniesta, Silva and Koke or Thiago, depending on the opposition. Silva and Isco, in that order, are Spain’s leading goal-scorers, proof that Lopetegui has achieved another of his goals: get the Spanish midfielders attacking the goal directly and scoring. He doesn’t want them to think their job is done with a final ball through. The 59 goals Spain has scored in the post-Del Bosque era have been scored by 18 players. Spain no longer suffer from the David Villa syndrome.
Morata needs to get his form back
In attack there is some doubt. There are four players for the thee spots up front in the list of 23, unless Lopetegui decides not to bring a right or left back and opts for a more versatile player such as Nacho or Azpilicueta, who can play in the centre or out wide. The best placed strikers are Diego Costa, Rodrigo and Iago Aspas. Morata meanwhile needs to get his form back if he wants to be going to Russia. Lopetegui wants to take him, but he won’t do it if the Chelsea man continues with his current stats: one goal in 2018 does not unlock the door to a World Cup.
Spain to meet up at the end of May
The Spain coach has said he has the squad list of 23 already in mind, and the shape of his team, but he’ll hang on to the last minute to make a final decision, with Spanish sides in action in Europe, potentially right up to the end of the season. He has until half way through May to make a deciosn, although it’s doubtful he’ll make any major changes at this point. Spain are due to meet up at the end of May at their Las Rozas base. On 3 June they play Switzerland in a friendly in Villarreal and then head to Russia where they’ll play their final warm-up game against Tunisia, before the tournament starts. Spain are in action on the second day of the tournament, against Portugal on Friday 15 June at 20:00 CEST. Spain then play Iran (Wednesday 20 June) and Morocco (Monday 25 June) in their other group stage matches.