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World Cup 2022 squad preview: Spain

World Cup regulars look to rising stars for inspiration as they seek to rekindle the glory of their 2010 victory.

Previous World Cup appearances: 16
Titles: 1
Best result: Winners (2010)
World Cup record: W30 D15 L18
Goals: 99
Biggest win: 6-1 vs. Bulgaria (1998)
Player to watch: Pedro
Current ranking: 7
Schedule: Costa Rica (November 25), Germany (November 27), Japan (December 1)

A proven winner as a manager, a team packed with young stars and a World Cup winning captain. Spain may not be the absolute favorites in Qatar, but they are likely to be tough to beat.

Spanish fans expect their team to progress relatively easily in a group that includes Costa Rica and Japan, but a tough test awaits them in the form of four-time champions Germany, with whom Luis Enrique’s side will likely battle for top spot.

Tournament regulars Spain has competed in every World Cup since 1978. Only five teams have better overall participation records: Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Italy and Mexico, and Qatar 2022 will mark the 16th appearance for Spaniards since they the inaugural competition took place in Uruguay in 1930. .

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victory of Spain in the World Cup

In 2010, Spain stunned the tournament in South Africa with their Tiki-Taka football dominating possession, topping their qualifying group before sweeping all opponents in the knockout stage to claim a historic first World Cup victory. They had never made it past the quarterfinals before.

An initially shaky start saw the Spaniards suffer a shock 1-0 first round loss to Switzerland, but wins against Honduras and Chile stabilized the campaign and saw them set up a round of 16 clash against neighboring Portugal.

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From there, the team proved unstoppable, beating Portugal, Paraguay, Germany and eventually the Netherlands in a tension-filled final decided by an extra-time winner: a run of matches in which they played over 360 minutes of knockout football without conceding a single goal. target only

The victory capped a golden period for Spain, which also won two European Championship trophies in 2008 and 2012.

golden boy pedri

Despite this being their first World Cup campaign, Spain’s hopes of glory in Qatar will likely hinge on the performances of Pedro González López, better known as Pedri, who turns 20 in November.

Widely touted in recent years as one of world football’s most promising child prodigies, the diminutive central midfielder has already asserted his talents on the international stage and drawn wide praise for his creative chops.

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Pedro from Spain
Spain’s Pedri will be an integral part of his team’s World Cup options [Vincent West/Reuters]

He received the prestigious Golden Boy trophy, awarded to the outstanding player aged 21 and under in Europe, late last year following a string of impressive performances for Spain at Euro 2020 and a great season at club Barcelona that saw him earn a place. regular in the starting eleven of the Spanish colossus.

Pedri’s boss at Barcelona, ​​legendary former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi, has already compared the burgeoning talent to fellow Spaniard great Andrés Iniesta for his positional intelligence and dazzling technical ability.

strong contenders

Spain are expected to battle Germany for pre-eminence in Group E, but should comfortably secure one of the two qualifying spots ahead of Japan and Costa Rica.

Under the guidance of Enrique, a series winner with Barcelona from 2014 to 2017, and revered captain Sergio Busquets, part of the team that lifted the World Cup in 2010, a run to the final stages of the tournament is a distinct possibility.

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Seven wins and two draws in their last 10 matches mean Spain will start the World Cup on a secure footing.

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