FIFA World Cup Special : Team talk – The Spanish Armada are firm favourites to go the distance

Spain will be major contenders for the upcoming FIFA World Cup.

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In our “Team Talks” for the FIFA World Cup 2018 series, we continue with Group B by taking a look at 2010 World Champions Spain.

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Team : SPAIN

Coach: Julen Lopetegui
Captain: Sergio Ramos
Nickname(s): La Furia Roja
Last Qualified in: 2014
Result in 2014: Eliminated in the Group Stages (23rd overall)
Qualified as: UEFA Group F Winners (10 October 2017)
Previous World Cup Appearances: (14 Times) 1934, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014.
Best World Cup Finals Result: Champions in 2010.

Final Squad:

David de Gea, Pepe Reina, Kepa Arrizabalaga; Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Odriozola, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Nacho, Cesar Azpilicueta, Jordi Alba, Nacho Monreal; Sergio Busquets, Saul Niquez, Koke, Thiago Alcantara, Andres Iniesta, David Silva; Isco, Marcio Asensio, Lucas Vazquez, Iago Aspas, Rodrigo, Diego Costa.

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Key Players:

1) David de Gea:

For many the Spaniard is The Best Goalkeeper in the world, and given his exploits under the bar at Old Trafford, one can’t disagree with the notion. However, the 27-year old will have huge boots to fill in Russia, when he replaces Iker Casillas in the Spanish goal. He will have a crucial role to play if Spain want to win back the cup.

2) Sergio Ramos: 

The Spanish skipper became the most hated player in the world after his antics injured Mohamed Salah in the UEFA Champions League final. His supplementary actions might be deplorable to say the least, but there’s no denying the fact that he is one of, if not the best, when it comes to his position. The second highest capped Spaniard with 151 appearances, he will lead the troops and his form will be crucial for the world cup contenders.

3) Andres Iniesta:

The Ex-Barcelona legend will be playing in his final World Cup tournament. The magician, with 5th most national caps, will once again be looked upon to weave his magic on the biggest stage of them all.

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4) David Silva: 

The 32-year old midfielder was once again instrumenhtal in Manchester City’s record breaking Premier League win. The 6th most capped Spanish player has already been a legendary member of the invincible Spanish side from 2008 and 2012. The crafty midfielder is going to be a crucial part of the daunting Spanish midfield line up.

5) Saul Niguez:

The 23-year old is Spain’s brightest young talent currently. The Atletico Madrid man has been a revelation at his club in the last few seasons, and Russia might just be the perfect place to kick-start his international career in full flow.

6) Diego Costa:

The Former Chelsea forward was the hottest goal scorer a couple of seasons back. But after falling out of favour with manager Antonio Conte, he moved back to his previous club Atletico. Combining with Frenchman Antoine Griezmann, the Brazilian born Spanish striker had a very good season coming into the World Cup. After a disastrous 2014 World Cup, the 29-year old will be desperate to prove himself this summer.

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Recent Form:

The Spanish Armada have been in formidable form in the past year or so. They are unbeaten in last 12 international matches, while drawing thrice and winning 9 times. They drew against Germany, before thrashing Argentina 6-1 in their last two matches in March.

Group matches:

Spain have been drawn in Group B alongside Portugal, Iran and Morocco. They will play Portugal in their opening match on 15th of June, followed by Iran and Morocco on 20th and 25th June respectively.

Prediction:

Drawn in a group with European Champions Portugal, Morocco and Iran (both of whom are capable of upsets), Spain are outright favourites to progress from Group B. In the first knockout-round, a possible encounter with Egypt or Uruguay is imminent, before a potential clash with Argentina or France. Despite a relatively tough group and tougher possible knockout fixtures, Lopetegui’s men are outright favourites to progress to the semi finals, and probably go all the way to win it again.

Trivia:

The Spanish National side are the only team in World Football so far to have won 3 top International titles (Continental and World) back to back. They achieved this incredible feat by winning the 2008 UEFA Euro Cup, 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2012 UEFA Euro Cup. They also share a record undefeated streak of 35 matches with Brazil in that period.

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