Spain’s head coach Luis Enrique has arguably made the most controversial squad selection ahead of the World Cup by leaving behind some high-profile players.
David de Gea’s absence did not come as a surprise as the Manchester United number one could not make the provisional squad for La Furia Roja.
Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simón will presumably be Spain’s first-choice goalkeeper in Qatar. Brighton’s Robert Sánchez and Brentford’s David Raya will be the reserve goalkeeping options.
Enrique sparked controversy by not picking Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Sergio Ramos in the final 26-man list.
The veteran has clocked more than 1500 minutes for his club this season and has been one of the standout performers in the Parisian outfit. His experience and leadership quality could have been vital for Spain in the World Cup.
Ramos is 36 years old now, which might have prompted Enrique to leave him out of the squad. 33-year-olds César Azpilicueta and Jordi Alba are the oldest defenders in the Spain roster. Daniel Carvajal and Aymeric Laporte will also add valuable experience to the backline.
Youngster Eric García often makes some costly errors, but his overall defensive attributes were good enough to retain his place in the team. Valencia’s Hugo Guillamón and Villarreal’s Pau Torres have also been rewarded for their solid performances for their respective clubs.
Thiago Alcântara is Liverpool’s midfield metronome, but he failed to feature regularly for the Reds this season because of fitness issues. So, Enrique did not hesitate to overlook him. Barcelona’s dynamic duo Pedri and Gavi will be the ones to look at in the Spanish midfield.
Some reports claim Enrique will prefer Sergio Busquets over Rodri in the first XI holding midfield position. Busquets will celebrate his 35th birthday a few months from now. Unsurprisingly, now he does not have the agility he once had. While Busquet still boasts excellent distributional skills, he could be a liability against teams with lightning-fast attackers.
Rodri, on the other hand, has been at the peak of his game.
He has been playing as a regista in Man City and played pivotal roles in two Premier League title-winning campaigns. His twinkle toes presence in the middle of the park, combined with his elite passing abilities, make him a more sensible choice as Spain’s primary pick as a holding midfielder.
Borja Iglesias will consider himself unlucky for not making it to the World Cup squad.
The Real Betis marksman has scored eight goals in 13 La Liga appearances this season. Therefore, Enrique took a significant risk by not including him in the final 26.
Ansdu Fati did not play much football this season, but Enrique had faith in him.
The Barcelona wonderkid has struggled with injuries lately and did not start many matches under Xavi Hernández in 22/23. However, the 20-year-old could be a difference-maker in Qatar for Spain if he gets to put on a consistent run.
Spain 2022 World Cup Squad
Unai Simon (Atheltic Bilbao), Robert Sánchez (Brighton), David Raya (Brentford)
Jordi Alba (Barcelona), César Azpilicueta(Chelsea), Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Hugo Guillamón (Valencia), Pau Torres (Vilarreal), José Gayà (Valencia), Eric García.
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Marcos Llorente (Atlético Madrid), Pedri (Barcelona), Gavi (Barcelona), Rodri (Manchester City), Koke (Atlético Madrid), Carlos Soler (PSG).
Álvaro Morata (Atlético Madrid), Yéremy Pino (Vaillarreal), Ferran Torres (Barcelona), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Nico Williams (Atheltic Bilbao), Ansu Fati (Barcelona).