The generation transition demanded from disappointed fans of the Spanish national side after poor showings in the Brazil 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 came in the form of new national team coach Julen Lopetegui who was appointed to the position in July 2016. After success as U-21 coach, the Basque took over a squad in desperate need of renovation. Out went the likes of Iker Casillas and other players favoured by Vicente Del Bosque such as Juanfran or Cesc with the new coach keen to draft in a new raft of young talent.
The likes of Isco, Thiago, Koke, De Gea and Alvaro Morata were key players in the Spain U-21 team and slowly made the transition to the full team. Regaining the key possession based style of football was also deemed as a priority for the new coach and signs of this style of play were obvious to see in games during Spain’s qualification for Russia 2018 with the performance against Italy at the Bernabéu in September of 2017 being the highlight of a comfortable qualification process for ‘La Roja’. Spanish national teams supporters are dreaming again as Spain start as one of the favourites ahead of the Russia World Cup.
|Preferred system: 4-3-3 ofensivo
The appointment of the 51-year-old has been fundamental in the resurgence of the Spanish national team. Despite having limited top flight experience, the Spanish FA deemed that the former goalkeeper was the right man for the job given his time as U-21 coach and extensive knowledge of under-age players and structure. With the Basque on the bench, things have clicked and the convincing group stage performances in getting to Russia has Spain among the favourites to lift the trophy in mid July.
|Club: Real Madrid
|Height: 176 cm
|Weight: 74 kg
Lopetegui was happy to call-up the Benalmádena born player even when he was failing to hold down a regular starting place in his Real Madrid club side. Isco’s recent good run of form with the Spanish national team also coincided with a return to form at club level and the midfielder is now a key figure in the centre of the pitch for Spain. Isco has an ability to pull off the spectacular and he was a fundamental figure as Spain over-ran Italy at the Bernabéu in a game which cemented ‘La Roja’s’ passage to Russia 2018.