We awaited Luis Enrique’s first squad list as Spain coach with great curiosity – a new national team coach, a new era about to get underway. And it’s natural that after a disappointment there is usually some kind of atonement, and in this case that has meant a clear-out. In total, 10 players who were part of the Spain squad at the World Cup in Russia have been excluded – admittedly three of them (Piqué, Iniesta and Silva) had already called time on their international careers. The most striking omissions were Jordi Alba, Koke and Iago Aspas; the former two have been pretty much regular fixtures with the national team and are at the ideal age. Iago Aspas is a more recent addition but fought tooth and nail for the team and fitted inwell. He makes way for Morata. Maybe that’s a question of taste or possibly just age. Aspas is now 31 and Luis Enrique is looking to the future...
Alba out, Marcos Llorente and Gayà in
The player who has been hardest hit is Jordi Alba; he has a history of problems with the coach but has always performed well for the national – as he has with Barça, and he still has plenty to give. On the other hand, in comes Marcos Alonso, who has been in great form and Gayà, another decent full-back. No change as far as the captain goes - Sergio Ramos, the only surviving member of Luis Aragonés side made the list; and Raúl Albiol returns after a lengthy period of being overlooked. He’s still got plenty to offer and also there are few alternatives for the central defence position right now. It was also interesting to see Luis Enrique place so much faith in Diego Llorente who has been included even though he’s injured. De Gea meanwhile, survived his calamitous World Cup.
England and Croatia to test the new-look Spain
And despite the general mistrust with which Real Madrid fans view Luis Enrique, he’s called up six Madrid players and only two from Barça; that can be partly explained by the fact that Barça now have fewer Spanish players in their squad. Luis Enrique has also included more players who have come from Madrid’s youth academy, La Fábrica than La Masía (six, as opposed to three). All in all I am pretty happy with his first squad list, although I would have liked to have seen him include Iago Aspas for the great enthusiasm he brings and I have my doubts about the insistence on De Gea. We will wait and see if he manages to keep Kepa out of the side. Anyway, we’ll find out soon enough how this new squad (who play their first game together against England at Wembley) get on. And after that, they face Croatia in Elche.