Spain aren’t too many people’s favourites for World Cup glory but, considering the strength of this line-up watching the tournament at home, perhaps they should be.
The 2010 winners have disappointed in their last two World Cups but were excellent in last summer’s European Championship and were unlucky to lose a riveting semi-final against Italy.
And manager Luis Enrique has made some big calls in his selected squad, picking young stars and leaving experienced campaigners out. But Spain still have one of the best squads in this year’s tournament and that’s without these stars that have been left behind.
GK: David De Gea
De Gea isn’t quite the player he used to be, but is still a world-class shot-stopper as he’s proven on a regular basis for Manchester United over recent seasons.
But, despite a solid start under Erik ten Hag, it wasn’t too surprising to see Enrique prefer Unai Simon, Robert Sanchez and David Raya as his three goalkeepers for the World Cup.
Chucking one in against Portugal in 2018 probably didn’t help his cause either…
RB: Pedro Porro
The Sporting Lisbon defender looked impressive against Tottenham in the Champions League last month but has been overlooked by Spain for this year’s tournament.
Having contributed four assists and a goal in the Portuguese league this year, Porro will be hopeful of featuring in future squads. He’s been linked with a move to Barcelona – you imagine that would help his cause.
CB: Sergio Ramos
Football’s ultimate shithouse won’t be in Qatar after being excluded from the Spain squad for the second successive major tournament.
While Ramos’ absence from the Euro 2020 squad was a surprise, not too many Spanish football experts were predicting his inclusion this time.
“The World Cup? Of course, it was one of those great dreams I had to fulfil,” Ramos said on social media. “It would have been my fifth, but unfortunately I’ll have to watch it at home.”
And now the PSG defender appears unlikely to add to his 180 caps for Spain.
CB: Inigo Martinez
Another experienced defender who’ll be watching Spain from the comfort of an armchair, It seems unfair that a player of Martinez’s undoubted quality only has 13 international caps – and never played a major tournament.
But Enrique has decided that the Athletic Bilbao defender was not worthy of inclusion in his 26-man squad.