The great Xavi has retired, as has the master passer Xabi Alonso. There is also no Fernando Torres, Carles Puyol or David Villa for Spain to call on — but that does not mean that La Roja are World Cup has-beens.
Having qualified for Russia 2018 undefeated and with a wealth of new talent to replace the World Cup-winning class of 2010, Spain can reclaim the trophy they won eight years ago, says Villa.
“The World Cup, it’s the best teams in the world, the best players in the world, and only one team can win so … it’s really difficult,” Villa, the former Barcelona and Spain striker now plying his trade in Major League Soccer with New York City, told COPA90.
“But if you ask me about the possibilities of course I say Spain. Spain has everything to take another World Cup.”
The influence of Andres Iniesta
What sets Spain, managed by former goalkeeper Julen Lopetegui, apart from the rest?
For a start there’s the irrepressible Andres Iniesta, who is still at the heart of Spain’s midfield, pulling the strings, conjuring sublime assists.
“It’s amazing to play with him,” says Villa, 36. “You have a feeling he doesn’t see you but he sees you. He knows where you are. You need to be ready always.”
Lopetegui may not be able to call on Villa, scorer of 59 international goals, but the manager does have Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata at his disposal.
Both strikers have not been in top form this season — after a promising start to his debut season at Chelsea, Morata’s form has fizzled out of late and he has scored just 13 goals in 38 games, though he did score in Chelsea’s 2-1 FA Cup victory over Leicester on Sunday.
The former Real player has been left out of March’s friendlies, against Germany and Argentina, but Atletico Madrid’s Costa is in the squad and the former Chelsea man knows how to score goals.
Though a number of Spain’s golden generation have retied key, experienced players still remain.
Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos is as fearsome in defense as ever and against Germany on Friday the captain will make his 150th appearance for La Roja.
Between the sticks they have Manchester United talisman David de Gea, while in David Sillva Spain possess one of the standout performers in this season’s English Premier League.