The World Cup in Qatar is Spain’s 16th participation. Since 1978, the Spanish have qualified for every World Cup finals. Their greatest success was winning the World Cup title in South Africa in 2010, which was also the Iberians’ only final or semi-final appearance to date. Otherwise, they reached the quarter-finals four times, most recently in 2002. At the 1982 World Cup on home soil, the Spanish team reached the second round of the final. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, they lost to hosts Russia in the round of 16 in a penalty shootout in which players Koke and Thiago Aspas both missed.
The qualification route
Spain played Sweden, Greece, Georgia and Kosovo in Group B during the qualifying stage, winning 6 of their 8 matches, losing only 2-1 away to Sweden. In the Fifa world rankings prior to the World Cup draw, Spain were ranked 7th, securing a place in the first draw pot and therefore seeded.
Spain have many first-class players, but unlike in 2010, there are no particularly stand-out players in the squad. Defensive midfielder Rodri (Manchester City) provides stability in the centre, while wingers Ansu Fati, when healthy, and Ferran Torres of FC Barcelona cause havoc in attack, where the hope is for goals from Alvaro Morata (Juventus Turin). One hopeful is midfielder Gavi (FC Barcelona), who is only 17 years old.
Former Barca coach Luis Enrique took up his post after the 2018 World Cup and has been on the national team’s sidelines 37 times since. There was a short break in 2019 for family reasons. On average, Luis Enrique scored 1.97 points with his team, but 21 wins equate to only a 57% win rate. His preferred playing system is a 4-3-3.
Unai Simon (Atletico Bilbao) – César Azpilicueta (Chelsea FC), Eric Garcia (FC Barcelona), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Jordi Alba (FC Barcelona) – Gavi (FC Barcelona), Rodri (Manchester City), Pedri (FC Barcelona) – Ansu Fati (FC Barcelona), Alvaro Morata (Juventus Turin), Ferran Torres (FC Barcelona)
World Cup 2022
In Group E, Spain will face Costa Rica, Germany and Japan. While one has to assume that Luis Enrique’s team will win the matches against Costa Rica and Japan, the key match for winning the group will be the performance against Germany on 27 November. This match will only be decided by nuances. Both teams are currently at a similar level of performance, but recent results suggest a bias towards Germany, so betting on Spain to win the group at 1.83 is hardly recommended.
Either Belgium or Croatia await in a possible round of 16 match – neither challenge will be easy for Spain, with an early exit looming.
Although Spain has been placed 4th by the bookmakers and a World Cup victory is rewarded with odds of 9.00, it does not look like Spain will play a major role at the 2022 World Cup.
Although Real Madrid are the reigning Champions League winners, it is significant that not a single Real player has a regular place in Luis Enrique’s team – the stars of the Madrilenians are all of foreign origin.
The core comes from the FC Barcelona team, who have been chasing international success for several years.
Other teams in Group E: