Spain’s “new breed” ready to kick off World Cup campaign

Spain kick off their campaign to qualify for the 2022 finals in Qatar on Thursday night with a new breed of players looking to make their mark.

Only six of the 24-man squad named by coach Luis Enrique for the forthcoming matches against Greece, Georgia and Kosovo formed part of the ill-fated expedition to the 2018 finals.

That trip to Russia was marked by the sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament.

Goalkeeper David de Gea, Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Koke and Thiago Alcantara are the survivors in a virtually unrecognisable squad from three years ago.

But Enrique (and for a while Roberto Moreno) has rang the changes.

Although De Gea forms part of the squad, Athletic Club Bilbao’s 23-year-old Unai Simon is likely to start in goal against Greece on Thursday night.

Enrique has shown his faith in youths by calling up FC Barcelona’s 18-year-old Pedri, along with 21-year-old Pedro Porro, is on loan at Sporting club de Portugal from .

Bryan Gil, the 20-year-old is on loan at Eibar from Sevilla, has also earned his place.

Robert Sanchez, a 23-year-old goalkeeper, was a surprise call-up after performing magnificently for Brighton.

Alba, Ramos and Busquets will still form the backbone of the Spain side, with Ramos’ 178 caps, 120 for Busquets and 70 for Alba, giving them a wealth of experience.

That experience will be vital to given that Unai Simon has only played for his country four times.

Eric Garcia has three caps, Diego Llorente six, Dani Olmo eight and Ferran Torres seven.

Enrique has shown he is not afraid to look beyond Spain’s borders with Garcia, Torres, Llorente all playing in .

Porro is currently plying his trade in Portugal and Olmo plays in Germany.

Only four squad members are aged over 30 (Ramos, Alba, Busquets and Sergio Canales).

In contrast, the fact that nine players under Enrique’s orders these days are aged 23 or under implies a positive future for Spain after the disappointments of 2018.(Xinhua/NAN)

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