Spain’s elimination in the group stages of the World Cup in Sambaland has come as a huge shock for the football fraternity all over the globe. Vicente Del Bosque’s gritty outfit were considered one of the pre tournament favourites, but the La Roja failed to live to the pressure and expectations back home by losing both of their matches against a quality Netherlands side and a relentless Chilean outfit. While the Red Armada were comprehensively beaten in both the encounters, their last groups encounter against Australia will probably see a lot of youngsters from the reserve bench in the starting lineup. Can the Socceroos send the World Champions winless from Brazil or will Del Bosque’s side restore some pride before they board their flight back home? Here is the probable Spain lineup against Australia.
Iker Casillas has had a shocking tournament with major critics underlining that the Spanish custodian’s real motivation was to win the La Decima for Real Madrid. The Spanish captain is expected to be dropped from the last game and with David De Gea reportedly injured, second choice goalkeeper Pepe Reina might get his debut match in the showpiece event’s history. Reina, who was on loan to Napoli from Liverpool had a good season for the Partenopei winning the Coppa Italia and finishing third in the Serie A under new manager Rafa Benitez.
Cesar Azpilicueta might be replaced by Atletico Madrid’s Juanfran while Jordi Alba will be manning the left back spot. Former Real Madrid defender and current Napoli man Raul Albiol may get the nod at the back over Bayern Munich’s Javi Martinez this time around, while either of Pique or Sergio Ramos will be preferred as his partner. Australia have a very well knitted unit and their movement off the ball and the ability up front will cause the makeshift Spanish defense a lot of trouble if they switch off in the encounter.
While this World Cup will usher a sea wave of changes in Spanish football, its certainly the end of an era of a six year long dominance in the International level. While Xabi Alonso has already declared his retirement from International football, Xavi’s career at Barcelona has reached its last chapter. Andres Iniesta survives from the current crop, but it would be a surprise to see him at Russia in 2018. Sergio Busquets should be the anchorman, while the Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and Atletico Madrid’s Koke who has had a brilliant season at club level may feature in the starting eleven. It would be interesting to see if Del Bosque opts to continue with David Silva and Andres Iniesta in the attacking third as both the players have been the only positive notes for the Spaniards so far.
Diego Costa flattered to deceive in the grandest stage of all after a stunning season for Atletico Madrid while Fernando Torres remains a shadow of his former self at Liverpool. David Villa’s career too is coming an end and the new MLS star might be expected to get some action up front in the closing stages. Cesc Fabregas’ training ground dispute with Del Bosque rules him out of the encounter.
Given Spain’s ill fated campaign and the Arsenal of world class players at Del Bosque’s disposal, it is a Himalayan task to predict the exact starting lineup that Spain will lineup. We have managed to come up with the most likely starting XI.