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Lopetegui, in search of the lost belief


Lopetegui starts his tenure in Brussels against Belgium. I don't think that it is what he would have desired but the match has been postponed since the massacre in Paris and they had to fulfill their commitment. On Monday, in León, comes an easier game, against Liechtenstein, and that one is official. From this we will be able to see Lopetegui's ideas, and based on their results either a wave of optimism or pessimism will be formed with a view to what lies ahead. And what follows will be trips to Italy and Albania, which will determine our place in the qualifying group for the World Cup. First place goes through. Second into a playoff...assuming you're not the worst of the European seconds.

The chosen ones.
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The chosen ones.

As you were...almost

We are not expecting many changes. At the back, Carvajal returns after missing through injury. In front of the defense (the others there are as always) my colleague Joaquín Maroto claims it will be Busquets, with Thiago and Koke close by, and up top Silva, Morata and Nolito. Little novelty. So what about Diego Costa? He may have been called up with thoughts on the Italian clash, in which he will battle with the Juve back three. I'd suggest that he'll get some pitch time today, as well as Vitolo who, at least, is a relative novelty. He is a rising star of our game, something in general that we're lacking.

Diego Costa and Paco Alcacer: Spain's striking alternatives.
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Diego Costa and Paco Alcacer: Spain's striking alternatives.VIRGINIE LEFOURAFP

A mental rebuild

The players are good, as Lopetegui has said. What he now has to do is rebuild the confidence that was lost back in Brazil, ever since that Van Persie header. Since then they have had some good times, but each setback faced has somewhat shattered that belief further. The lack of certainty - that was always centred on the ball, as recalled by Sergio Busquets yesterday - of yesteryear. A question of mentality and playing ability, two things that seem different but come as one. Yesterday Lopetegui said: "We want to return to when we dictated the games." And, to begin with, a designated penalty taker will be stated before games. This will be welcomed.