The vibes of World Cup football are spreading across the globe and the participating nations have already announced their squad for next month’s mega event.
The players who have earned the tickets of Russia must be jubilant, however, some bizarre omissions have shell-shocked the fans, baffling the footballers who were supposed to fulfil their World Cup dreams following an impressive club campaign for their respective outfits.
The story of Spain is no different either. The 2010 World Cup winners had a shocking group stage exit four years back but have improved of late under Julen Lopetegui.
The gaffer has left behind a few big names as he had no option but to pick only 23 from a pool of supreme talents. This significant depth has opened a window to form an alternate line-up using players who were snubbed by their national team manager, that is still better than most of the nations participating in the big event.
The Snubbed Spain XI
Iker Casillas (GK)
The iconic Spaniard might not be in his prime but is still going strong between the sticks at Porto and has played a major role in crowning them the Primeira Liga champions. Casillas guided Spain to win the 2010 World Cup along with 2008 and 2012 European Championships. The Real Madrid legend has been capped 167 times for Spain and was also included in their 2016 Euro squad. Casillas, however, has been omitted this time and Athletic Bilbao youngster Kepa Arrizabalaga has earned a place instead.
Sergi Roberto (RB)
A host of Barcelona stars earned a World Cup place barring this versatile academy prodigy who had a major role in their comprehensive La Liga victory. Hector Bellerin and Juanfran Torres have also been left out by Lopetegui.
Marc Bartra (CB)
The former Barcelona centre-back struggled to settle down at Borussia Dortmund but a winter loan to Real Betis helped him redefine himself and brought him back in contention for a World Cup spot, only to miss out in the end.
Raul Albiol (CB)
The Napoli centre-back had a scintillating Serie A campaign where he performed persistently in the heart of their defensive line. Albiol has made more than 50 senior appearances for his nation and also featured in the 2014 World Cup. He, however, has not been involved in Spain’s squad in recent years and his stupendous form could not convince Lopetegui either.
Marcos Alonso (LB)
The Chelsea full-back made it to the Premier League Team of the Season but lost his World Cup place to Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal, who sensationally earned a World Cup ticket for his experience as well as consistency in Arsenal colours.
Javi Martinez (CDM)
The versatile Spaniard is one of many superstars Bayern Munich have in their star-studded squad. Martinez is hailed for his versatility and should have been considered for next month’s mega event.
Lack of opportunities in Barcelona saw him complete a loan move to Inter Milan back in January. The 25-year-old midfield star enjoyed a majestic spell and played a massive role in guiding the Serie A big guns to qualify for the 2018-19 Champions League campaign.
Cesc Fabregas (LCM)
The experienced Spaniard is another shocking exclusion who has represented his nation 110 times at the senior level. He did not have a productive season at Chelsea and also seems off-pace of late. His experience will certainly be missed but the manager must be confident enough on the midfield options he has banked on for the upcoming event.
Another Chelsea star who is vastly experienced in the international circuit but lost his place due to lack of form and limited first-team opportunities under Antonio Conte.
The winger has featured under Lopetegui in recent years and was viewed as a player preferred by the gaffer for his passing, link-up play, holding and crossing traits. The Atletico Madrid attacker, however, failed to break into the squad.
Alvaro Morata (ST)
A massive disappointment for the Spaniard, who had a blistering start to his Chelsea career with consecutive goals. However, he faced a barren run this year, which has seen him get omitted from the squad.