Coral’s incredible Spain all-star absentee starting XI
Spain boss Vicente del Bosque (odds-on with Coral at 1/8 to win Euro 2016 qualifying Group C) is blessed with incredible squad depth that most international coaches could only dream of.
The World Cup winner even recently warned sidelined Chelsea superstars Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas not to take their international spots for granted. Del Bosque said: “It could be that when Costa and Fabregas come back another player has taken their place. That is not a threat, it’s just reality.”
With such an abundance of top quality options at his disposal, Coral writers decided to see how strong La Roja’s XI would be with the players who didn’t, or couldn’t, make Del Bosque’s final cut.
Goalkeeper: DAVID DE GEA
Currently nursing a broken thumb, Manchester United’s nimble number one would certainly have made Spain’s squad if fit. What is less sure is whether the talented custodian would start ahead of Del Bosque’s favoured keeper Iker Casillas, despite the latter’s long run of poor form.
Right back: DANIEL CARVAJAL
Real Madrid full back Carvajal was injured on club duty, losing the chance to stake his claim for a place ahead of experienced option Juanfran and the ever-impressive Cesar Azpilicueta. At just 22, the talented youngster still has time on his side, however.
Centre back: JAVI MARTINEZ
Despite at times appearing out-of-favour with club boss Pep Guardiola, accomplished anchorman Martinez was key to Bayern Munich’s success last season. Sidelined with a long-term injury, his return will undoubtedly be a boost to La Roja too. Also able to play as a centre half, the Basque possesses enviable vision, tenacity and composure.
Centre back: INIGO MARTINEZ
The Real Sociedad defender was once heavily linked with a switch to Barcelona, but those rumours dissipated following a significant dip in his, and his side’s, form. Commanding and solid on his day, new coach David Moyes will need to work his magic on the Spaniard and improve his consistency if he is to earn a recall.
Left back: ALBERTO MORENO
Sevilla academy product Moreno has had a mixed time since making a summer switch to Liverpool. Despite regularly turning out for the Reds, the attacking full back is still very much an understudy to international teammate Jordi Alba.
Central midfield: THIAGO ALCANTARA
Alcantara boasts his own unique style, but the versatile playmaker has been plagued by injury since his switch from Barcelona to Bayern Munich. Blessed with tremendous technique and an eye for an adventurous pass, the 23-year-old is capable of playing in both advanced and deeper midfield positions.
Central Midfield: ANDRES INIESTA
Decorated maestro Iniesta still has an incredibly important role to play for La Roja. Having won it all, the importance of the 30-year-old’s experience and guile cannot be overstated, even as Del Bosque looks to rebuild.
Central Midfield: CESC FABREGAS
Simply world class, Fabregas has shone since leaving boyhood club Barca to return to the Premier League, and is thriving in a deeper role again. Back to business, the supreme assistant should be pulling the strings for Spain now after Xavi’s retirement.
Right wing: IKER MUNIAIN
It feels as though the 21-year-old has been around for ever, but, with just one senior cap so far, the Athletic Bilbao talent has more work to do to catch Del Bosque’s eye. With previously ignored stars now being given a chance, this could be the time for Muniain to finally fulfil his promise.
Left wing: DAVID SILVA
Silva’s craft and artistry is a big miss for both country and club. Increasingly influential, his ability to create chances from nowhere and exploit the smallest pockets of space are crucial to Spain and City.
Striker: DIEGO COSTA
The Brazilian-born frontman is yet to truly impress for his adopted nation. Despite Del Bosque’s warning, the powerful Chelsea striker should return to the fold considering his impressive haul of 10 Premier League goals this term. Costa is a fantastic 50/1 to be Champions League top scorer.