Few surprises in Spain’s 30-man World Cup squad
MADRID (AP) — Spain’s preliminary 30-player squad for the World Cup included most of the key players that helped the country win its last three major tournaments, with Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa the highest-profile newcomer.
The defending champions sent their preliminary list to FIFA on Tuesday, with coach Vicente del Bosque to announce the final 23-man squad on May 25.
Costa is set to lead the attack in his native Brazil, with Atletico Madrid teammate David Villa and Chelsea’s Fernando Torres also included, while David de Gea replaces injured goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
Fullback Alvaro Arbeloa, who has been part of Spain’s two European Championship triumphs and its World Cup win in South Africa, was left out despite returning from a long-term injury. Real Madrid teammate Dani Carvajal fills his spot.
In all, 18 of the 23 players who were in South Africa were included in the preliminary squad.
Spain begins Group B play against the Netherlands on June 13 in Salvador in a rematch of the 2010 final which it won 1-0 after extra time.
Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo is also included, although Del Bosque could again opt to use Cesc Fabregas as a “false” striker up front. Villa is Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer and Torres scored in the finals of its Euro 2008 and ’12 victories, but at least one of them is likely to be dropped from the final squad.
Del Bosque also called on Spain regulars Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla, with creative Madrid midfielder Isco left out. Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Iturraspe was a surprise inclusion.
Andres Iniesta, who scored the winner in the final at Soccer City four years ago, is in midfield alongside Xavi Hernandez, David Silva, Koke, and Thiago Alcantara, who was included despite missing the end of Bayern Munich’s season because of an injury.
Goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas will play in his fourth World Cup, while Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique will anchor Spain’s defense. Javi Martinez is also available at center back or in a holding midfield role alongside Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso.
With Jordi Alba set to start at left back, Carvajal looks set to fill Arbeloa’s place on the right, with Juanfran Torres and Cesar Azpilicueta also available. Carvajal has yet to make an appearance for Spain.
Spain faces Chile in Rio de Janeiro on June 18 before closing group play against Australia on June 23 in Curitiba.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Napoli), David de Gea (Manchester United)
Defenders: Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid).
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Jesus Navas (Manchester City), David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Ander Iturraspe (Athletic Bilbao), Juan Mata (Manchester United).
Forwards: Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), David Villa (Atletico Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Fernando Llorente (Juventus).