World Cup 2018 Spain team profile: How they qualified, star man, World Cup record, fixtures
Spain head to Russia with a veteran squad but one with undoubted talent. Can they right the wrong that was 2014?
- Honours: World Cup 2010, European Championship 1964, 2008, 2012
- FIFA Ranking: 8
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
The 2010 World Cup winners - in a group containing Italy, Albania, Israel, Macedonia and Liechtenstein - won nine and only drew one as they took 28 points from a possible 30.
Four-time World Cup winners Italy will have a watching brief after they finished second and lost the resultant play-off against Sweden. The 6-1 thrashing of Argentina in a friendly after qualification built on Spain's momentum.
STAR MAN - Andres Iniesta
The 34-year-old arrives at his last World Cup in some of his finest-ever form. The soon-to-be Vissel Kobe star was instrumental as Barcelona collected a Liga and Copa del Rey double in his 16th year at the club.
Such has been his brilliance that France Football, upon his announcement that he would leave Barcelona, lamented the fact he had never won their Ballon d’Or award.
NEXT BIG THING - Marco Asensio
Spain have taken a veteran squad to Russia, with Iniesta accompanied by Sergio Ramos, 32, David Silva, 32, Gerard Piqué, 31, Diego Costa, 29, Jordi Alba, 29 and Sergio Busquets, 29, as likely starters.
Such a stacked midfield suggests their brightest star, Marco Asensio, will most likely start from the bench. However, such is his talent, he will be able to make his mark from there.
THE COACH - Julen Lopetegui
Julen LopeteguiGetty Images
Lopetegui replaced Vicente del Bosque as national team boss after the World Cup in Brazil, after having great success with the youth teams between August 2010 and May 2014, where he brought through players of the ilk of Isco.
The 51-year-old has done a remarkable job since his appointment, winning his qualification group with ease and hammering Argentina in a friendly.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
Winners in 2010, Spain were abject in their defence in 2014, opening on June 13 with a 5-1 defeat against Netherlands, before losing 2-0 to Chile just five days later.
Spain, once the great underachievers at international level having never been beyond the quarter-final stage before 2014, were reduced to a watching brief after getting knocked out at the group stage.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
This is Spain’s opportunity to put right the wrong that was Brazil 2014. They came into that tournament with expectations skewed and appeared to wilt under the pressure. This time they arrive with one of, if not the most, talented squad in world football. Yet, they come to the tournament slightly under the radar.
- 15th June – Portugal
- 20th June – Iran
- 25th June – Morocco