World Cup 2018

Spanish PM picks his World Cup XI... Lopetegui gives thumbs-up

Mariano Rajoy paid AS a visit this week and picked his side for Russia. We asked the Spain coach what he thought: "He has good taste."

Spanish PM picks his World Cup XI... Lopetegui gives thumbs-up

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy paid the AS offices a visit this week to talk football and picked his preferred Spain XI for the World Cup in Russia. As such, we decided to run the PM’s team past Julen Lopetegui, whose job it will be to pick the starting 11 when La Roja kick-off their campaign in Sochi against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal

Mariano Rajoy’s World Cup XI

David de Gea; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Koke, Andrés Iniesta; David Silva, Iago Aspas, Juan Mata.

You can see that Rajoy has good taste,” Lopetegui opined of the PM’s selection. “Furthermore, all of these players that he picked have been in the squad with us before.”

Among Rajoy’s most surprising picks were Celta striker Aspas and Manchester United attacking midfielder Mata, both of whom have been called up under Lopetegui although Mata has found it harder to get into recent squads due to the incredible depth of talent Spain possess in the midfield positions.

Spain to limber up for Russia against Germany and Argentina

Aspas, on the other hand, is in the form of his life and will be one of three strikers to make the plane to Russia, along with Diego Costa and Álvaro Morata, barring any huge surprises.

Lopetegui’s next squad will be announced in March when the final international break takes place. His La Roja side will put their World Cup credentials to the test against Germany in Dusseldorf on March 23 and Argentina at Atlético’s Metropolitano stadium four days later. Spain’s final warm-up game before the tournament in Russia will be against Tunisia on June 9 in the Krasnodar Stadium.