After having a tough row of disappointing years which witnessed the Spanish national football team getting defeated and knocked out of the 2014 World Cup and the Euro 2016, La Roja bounced back last year. The turning point started for the Spanish national football team when Julen Lopetegui took over from Vicente del Bosque after the defeats at Euro 2016, and rehauled the team with the very same players who had struggled with the team, such as Manchester United star shot-stopper David de Gea, David Silva, Sergio Ramos. Resultantly, with the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia right at their doorstep, Spain started looking a little more like the side who had championed three successive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012.
As the Spanish national football team looks more and more prepared by the day, for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, we look at 5 key Spanish players who will most likely take the centre-stage at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
David de Gea
After his innumerable heroics for the Spanish national football team, especially in 2010 World Cup, the legendary Iker Casillas finally showed that he was only human, and taking the toll of the side’s poor run, Casillas had given way to the younger generation to step in on the action. Next thing you know, a gritty and gifted shot-stopper called David De Gea emerges onto the scene. The Manchester United No.1 has outclassed his club’s leading players, cementing his reputation as the side’s best player for years now.
Arguably the best shot-stopper in the Premier League currently, Lopetegui will hope that David De Gea brings his A game from his club, and help La Roja pose one of the greatest threats to other teams in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
Starting his career as an 18-year-old back in 2005, Sergio Ramos has become the favorite right-back of the Spanish national football team, and was recently honoured by the Spanish Football Federation as well, when the 32-year-old made his 150th appearance for the national team. At the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Sergio Ramos will be appearing for his fourth World Cup for La Furia Roja (The Furious Reds). Just recently he was feted by the Spanish Football Federation when he made his 150th appearance for the national team.
This means that while Ramos is not the oldest one in the Spanish national football team, he is the most experiences, as compared to his 150, even Andres Iniesta’s 125 and David Silva’s 119 caps are less.
At the crucial line of defense, Ramos will need to stand strong against skilled forwards such as his Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal). Nevertheless, Ramos will be a valued asset for the Spanish national football team, considering that his knack for speeding up the flanks and penetrating inside has earned him the badge for the third-highest goalscorer in this current squad.
Los Blancos‘ young and rising player Marco Asensio, who is only 22, has been proving to be a star among the footballing superheroes that wear the white colour. In fact, the attacking midfielder has played more minutes in La Liga than veterans Isco and Gareth Bale, also being behind 6 goals and 6 assists for the team. Making his debut for the Spanish national football team in 2016, Asensio matured quickly, finishing the year with 10 goals in all competitions.
The only issue that could bother an Asensio fan is the fact that the 22-year-old has little experience with the national team and has very recently broken into the senior team. Therefore, making it into the starting lineup may be a step too far for the youngster. However, like Real Madrid boss Zidane, Lopetegui could look to use Asensio as an impact substitute, as the attacking midfielder does it all, puts pressure on defenders and can be incisive when it matters the most.
Being a midfield-oriented side, Spain do not have many forwards to choose from, and Marcos Asensio offers a unique ability to progress the game to opponent’s box, and to make himself available to shoot. A man who is known to thrive in pressure, Asensio is a definite count in the Spanish national football team for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
Although now seen playing fewer minutes for Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane, Isco boasts off an illustrious when he is playing for the Spanish football national team. One of the foremost examples for this is when Isco scored a hat-trick against Argentina during the international break in March this year. Although Lionel Messi did not play for Argentina in the devastating loss, Asensio led La Roja to register a 6-1 victory over a giant.
Isco’s clever runs in the final third, close-quarter ball control and unselfish plays are what will be key to Lopetegui’s new-look Spain. They play a lot more straight-forward game than a previous Del Bosque side, and the 22-year-old’s vertical movement will be required to unlock defences.
Decorating the attacking lineup for the Spanish national football team, David Silva is ineed the highest goal scorer in the current squad, with 35 goals for Spain. With star-strikers such as David Villa and Fernando Torres no longer in the mix, and ex-Chelsea player Diego Costa still finding an important role in the Spanish squad, the goalscoring burden will fall on players such as David Silva to find goals.
The Manchester City star has a unique and gifted ability to dominate the central midfield, and alternately widen up on the wings and orchestrate a deadly game for his opponents, and that is what makes Silva so special a player for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
Be it an advanced midfielder or a wide forward, David Silva’s ability to find space and attack or dish out assists has definitely made the City star a key Spanish player to be followed closely at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.