Can Spain Reclaim Their World Cup Throne?

We’re approximately eight years removed from when Andres Iniesta netted the game-winner for Spain, against the Netherlands in the Finals of the 2010 WRold Cup. And while the vast majority of players are gone, a core group from that championship team remains. It’ll be up to manager Julen Lopetegui to corral the younger members of the Spanish team, and hopefully get this team back to the Finals.

Can Spain Reclaim Their World Cup Throne?

Spain in World Cup 2018

Depending on which sportsbook you’re checking, Spain is among the top three favorites to win in all in 2018, right up there with Brazil, next-door neighbor France, and the defending champion Germany.

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Spain marched through Europe’s Group G qualifiers – which included Italy, Albania, Israel, Liechtenstein and Macedonia – with relative ease, losing only three of their 10 games while averaging more than 3.5 goals scored per game over that stretch. Lopetegui used that experience to mix and match the younger guys on his squad with some of the holdover veterans, like a chemist in the lab concocting a new potion that will change the world.

Iniesta is still there, along with fellow veterans David Silva and Sergio Busquets. They’ll provide the experience and guile for playing in a tournament like this, while younger players like Real Madrid‘s Marco Asensio and Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez will provide the youthful exuberance and infusion of energy to the team.

Lopetegui will undoubtedly use this depth at midfield to continue using Spains possession-based style of play, and add in the wrinkle of attacking the other team anytime they lose the ball. Whether this works or not in Russia is the question that will need to be answered. Of course, even if it does work, Spain actually needs to capitalize on having the ball so much by putting it in the back of the net. While they showed a proclivity for doing so in the qualifiers, the World Cup is not the qualifiers. By and large, this team doesn’t have true “firepower,” with guys like Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata, Rodrigo Moreno and Iago Aspas reluctantly playing more of the attacker roles for the team.

Moreover, this could be the big coming out party for goalkeeper David de Gea; many people believe he might already be the best goalie on the planet, but if he keeps up his current level of play in this tournament, it’ll basically cement that status.

The pressure is on Lopetegui, as he’s taking the team built by Luis Aragones and curated by Vincente Del Bosque, and applying a little bit of his own expertise to get Spain back to where they think they belong. With the team’s early successes, including their 3-0 win over Italy win in the qualifiers, along with their 6-1 win over mighty Argentina, has everyone believing.

It would be a disappointment if Spain didn’t make it to the semifinals, at the very least; however, that’s when they would play Germany, the odds-on favorite to win it all. That’s when La Roja will face their stiffest test.