Selection dilemmas still to solve before the World Cup

Spain manager Luis Enrique is set for a few sleepless nights as he ponders which players will make it into his squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Enrique’s side face Costa Rica, Germany and Japan in the opening phase and will fancy their chances of progressing to the knockout stage.

They kick off their Group E campaign against Costa Rica on November 23, before meeting fellow European heavyweights Germany four days later.

La Roja’s third group fixture is against Japan on December 1, and they will expect to be in the top two when the final whistle is blown.

Some of the best World Cup betting sites consider Spain to be among the favourites to become world champions for the first time since 2010.

However, with tournament just a few weeks away, Enrique has several issues to resolve before naming his final squad.

With that in mind, we take a look at each section of Spain’s squad to determine which players are likely to make the final cut.

Goalkeepers

Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon is in pole position to be Spain’s first-choice goalkeeper at the World Cup ahead of Robert Sanchez and David Raya.

Manchester United’s David De Gea has been widely tipped to miss out after being omitted from the squad for Spain’s last eight internationals.

De Gea has not started for Spain since a 1-0 defeat against Ukraine in the Nations League in October 2020 and it would be a major surprise if Enrique recalled him.

Defenders

Enrique is spoilt for choice at the back and may be forced to leave at least one high-profile defender at home.

Dani Carvajal, Eric Garcia, Aymeric Laporte and Jordi Alba will probably be the back four at Qatar 2022 and are certainties to be in the squad.

Cesar Azpilicueta and Pau Torres should also be included, while Jose Luis Gaya and Hugo Guillamon fancy their chances of being on the plane.

Inigo Martinez, Diego Llorente and Marcos Alonso are also in contention, highlighting the defensive depth at Enrique’s disposal.

However, his biggest decision centres on Paris Saint-Germain defender Sergio Ramos will be part of the final squad.

The veteran struggled with injuries last season but has been in excellent form this term and his experience could be vital in Qatar.

Midfielders

Midfield is another area where Spain have an embarrassment of riches and several big stars could be omitted when Enrique announces his squad.

Thiago Alcantara, Sergio Busquets, Rodri, Pedri, Koke and Gavi are guaranteed to be on the plane, but who joins them is less clear.

Carlos Soler and Sergio Roberto should make the final cut, while it would be a surprise if Marco Asensio missed out.

Nico Williams is amongst the other players hoping to be included after featuring in the squad for Spain’s recent Nations League fixtures.

Busquets, Koke and Pedri are likely to be Enrique’s preferred midfield trio for Spain’s opening game against Costa Rica.

Forwards

Pablo Sarabia, Alvaro Morata and Ferran Torres are fancied to start up front for Spain, but several other players are pushing for a place in the line-up.

They include Yeremi Pino, Borja Iglesias and Ansu Fati, while Rodrigo and Bryan Gil are also in contention.

Fati could be the player who makes a difference off the bench for Spain after impressing during the early part of the season with Barcelona.

Spain starting XI & World Cup hopes

Spain’s line-up for their first group game against Costa Rica is likely to be as follows: Simon, Carvajal, Garcia, Laporte, Alba; Busquets, Koke, Pedri; Sarabia, Morata, Torres.

They undoubtedly have the ability to go a long way at the World Cup, although whether they can lift the trophy is open for debate.

Spain have disappointed at the last two World Cup tournaments, exiting at the group stage in 2014 and the last 16 four years ago.

However, there have been signs over the past couple of years they are ready to make a big impact at a major tournament. 

Enrique has not been afraid to make tough decisions, particularly when it comes to dropping big names from his squad.

Germany will be their toughest opponents in the opening phase, while Costa Rica and Japan will believe they can upset the odds and progress to the round of 16.

If everything clicks for Spain they could make the semi-finals, but that may be the limit of what they achieve at the tournament.

Tags 2022 World Cup Luis Enrique Spain
La Liga - Club News