Spain will be aiming to begin their 2022 World Cup campaign in the best possible manner when they cross swords with Costa Rica in their Group E opener on Wednesday.
La Roja haven’t won a World Cup knockout match since the 2010 final in Johannesburg, South Africa. They have failed to impress in the last two showpiece events since lifting the gold trophy in 2010. However, Luis Enrique’s appointment has seen the Spaniards reach the semi-finals of the Euro 2020 and Nations League over the last 18 months.
Enrique and co. will face a stiff test against Costa Rica, who will be on a high having lost only one of their last 13 matches in all competitions.
Spain Team News
Jose Gaya suffered a sprained ankle during training with the Spanish national team last week, and after the early prognosis suggested that the left-back will be out for 10-15 days, he has been sent home. Barcelona teenager Alejandro Balde has been named as Gaya’s replacement.
Ahead of the World Cup opener against Costa Rica, Spain have no current fitness concerns in their squad.
Predicted Spain Lineup vs Costa Rica (4-3-3)
Unai Simon has been Spain’s first-choice goalkeeper under Luis Enrique and is expected to start against Costa Rica on Wednesday. He will be bidding to start the World Cup campaign with a clean sheet.
With Luis Enrique opting for a 4-3-3 formation, Pau Torres is likely to get the nod to feature alongside Aymeric Laporte at the heart of the defence in the Spain lineup.
Dani Carvajal is a nailed-on starter at right-back, while Jordi Alba hopes to enjoy a productive outing on the other flank as the left-back in the Spain lineup.
The Spanish backline must try to keep things simple and tight at the back throughout the 90 minutes to earn a clean sheet against the Costa Ricans.
It is expected to be an all-Barcelona midfield, with Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Gavi starting in the Spanish engine room. Busquets will provide cover to the defence whilst trying to dictate the tempo of the game.
Gavi and Pedri will operate as the No.8s in the Spain lineup, hoping to pull the strings and create meaningful opportunities for their teammates in the final third.
Carlos Soler, Koke and Rodri could be used in the second half if required.
Alvaro Morata will spearhead Spain’s attack as he looks to put in a tireless shift and make a difference up top against Costa Rica. Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres should occupy the wide roles in the Spain lineup, with the duo tasked with the responsibility of creating chances for Morata in and around the box.
Marco Asensio, Ansu Fati and Dani Olmo will have to settle for a place on the bench but might come on in the latter stages of the game if Enrique decides to bring them on.