SPAIN

Morata, Rodrigo, Aspas... Diego Costa's rivals for a starting place with Spain

Julen Lopetegui has few big decisions to make in respect of the goalkeepers, defence, and midfield ahead of the World Cup. But the forward line is open for casting.

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Se aprieta el casting del 9 en la Selección española: Morata, Aspas y Rodrigo, de dulce.

Whistles directed towards Gerard Piqué and Spain’s new shirt continue to create controversy around the national team. In the midst of that, Julen Lopetegui is putting together the pieces ahead of the World Cup. The last piece of the puzzle is the forward line.

'Keepers, defence, midfield fine for Lopetegui

The debate around the goalkeeping position is has fizzled out. David De Gea is secure, Kepa is warming up to make a big leap, and Pepe Reina provides experience and a presence in the dressing room.

With two centre-halves who are so different yet compliment each other like a perfect couple, and a plentiful supply of full-backs, the defence does not pose a problem. The same goes for the centre of the park. Saúl or Asier Illaramendi can provide back-up for Sergio Busquets, while Suso and Luis Alberto add to the embarrassment of riches in the playmaker department.

The only significant question marks that remain are among the strikers, and much of that is due to Diego Costa. He is one of the top strikers in the world, yet despite that, he has been unable to fit in to the ‘tiki-taka’ system. Costa is unable to play for Atlético Madrid until January, and Spain have not missed him a great deal in his absence. On the contrary, his attacking rivals are settling in nicely.

Morata, Rodrigo, Aspas... Diego Costa's challengers for a starting place with Spain

With the like of David Silva, Isco, and Marco Asensio, the cherry on top is the only thing missing. A glance at the squad for the upcoming international fixtures is enough to calm the nerves. Álvaro Morata, Iago Aspas, and Rodrigo are all in hot goal-scoring form.

Morata, Aspas, Rodrigo vying for No.9 shirt

Morata is the lead candidate for the starting role. He has scored eight goals in 15 matches, and more importantly, he has shaken off the shackle of being a back-up player. At Chelsea he feels like the main man, and that does wonders for his self-esteem.

Iago Aspas is not far behind. He has his foot in the door, and does not want to let it out until he is on the plane to Russia. The Galician was outshone by Maxi Gómez at Celta in the opening weeks of the season, and he found it difficult to get going. But since mid-October Aspas has hit form, scoring six goals in four matches.

Rodrigo is in the form of his career, form that he wouldn’t have dared to dream of given his rotten luck with injuries. Like Simone Zaza, he is flying under Marcelino at Valencia, with eight goals in 12 matches.