The Spanish national team is eight years removed from its lone World Cup triumph when it conquered the globe in South Africa with Andres Iniesta’s winner against the Netherlands in extra time. Now, two World Cup cycles later, many things have changed and many players are gone. From that 2010 team, probably around six to eight players will be on the 2018 squad, there are high hopes an influx of young talent can carry Spain to the final. To do so, they’ll have to overcome the shock of sacking their manager just a day before the World Cup began.

Squad 2010 and 2018:

Spain Squad
2010 Champions Squad 2018 Squad
Goal Keepers
Iker CASILLAS -Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao)
Pepe REINA- Goalkeeper David De Gea (Manchester United)
Víctor VALDÉS -Goalkeeper Pepe Reina (Napoli)
Defenders
Álvaro ARBELOA Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Carlos MARCHENA Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
Carles PUYOL Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
Gerard PIQUE Nacho (Real Madrid)
Joan CAPDEVILA Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)
Raul ALBIOL Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad)
Sergio RAMOS* Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)*
Midfielder
Andres INIESTA Isco (Real Madrid)
Cesc FABREGAS Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich)
David SILVA * Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)*
Javi MARTINEZ David Silva (Manchester City)*
Sergio BUSQUETS* Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Xabi ALONSO Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid)
Xavi HERNANDEZ Koke (Atletico Madrid)
Forward
David Villa Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)
Fernando LLORENTE Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo)
Fernando TORRES Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
Juan MATA Rodrigo (Valencia)
Jesus NAVAS Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid)
Pedro
Competition history
World Cup appearances: 15
Best finish: Champions (2010)
Last World Cup: 2014, group stage
Matches
Friday, June 15: vs. Spain at 2 p.m. ET
Wednesday, June 20: vs. Iran at 2 p.m. ET
Monday, June 25: vs. Morocco at 2 p.m. ET

Roster:

Spain World Cup 2018 Squad, Schedule, Scores, Roster & Best Player
Spain World Cup 2018 Squad, Schedule, Scores, Roster & Best Player

Best Player:

David De Gea. On a team filled with world-class midfielders, we’re going with their goalie. The Manchester United goalkeeper is so good, fans will be fine with not seeing Iker Casillas in goal. He’s one of the top three goalkeepers in the world, and you can make a case he’s the best. He pulls off incredible save after incredible save, and he also saved Manchester United on many occasions this past season. With Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique in front of him, he won’t be as busy as he is with his club, but if he plays up to his ability, Spain can win this tournament.

Player to watch:

Thiago. Kind of an afterthought at Barcelona, he’s turned into a star at Bayern Munich. He’s so sharp on the ball, he’s quick to play the ball and move in the attack, but wise enough to be patient and allow his teammates to stretch the field and open up for Spain’s quick-pass attack. He’s a player in his prime and may be counted on heavily in Russia.

Crux and Prediction:

This team doesn’t have the proven track record up top to win like it did in 2010, but this squad has enough in the midfield to simply dominate the ball and make a run to the final. In the middle, at the back and in goal, this team is loaded. But up top, who is going to be the guy? Will it be veterans Diego Costa and Iago Aspas or young star Rodrigo, coming off a fantastic season at Valencia? That’s the toughest choice the manager has entering this tournament. Costa has been the guy in recent friendlies and is rejuvenated since his return to Atletico Madrid, so he’likely start but Aspas and Rodrigo will get their chances. If the attack can manage to create those golden chances consistently in attack, there’s no reason why Spain can’t be the last team standing.

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