As the World Cup edges closer, we continue our run down of all 32 nations competing in Russia.
After previewing Euro 2016 champions Portugal on Wednesday, it’s time to delve into their rivals Spain.
This will be Julen Lopetegui’s first major tournament in charge of the senior Spanish national team after replacing Vicente del Bosque in the wake of Euro 2016.
Spain crashed out of the group stages of the 2014 World Cup, becoming just the fourth defending champions to exit at that stage of the tournament.
Not only will Lopetegui be expected to avoid similar embarrassment, but Spain are considered one of the favourites this summer.
Spain have immense riches of talent at their disposal and you could argue that even their second XI would be tipped to go far in the tournament.
Lopetegui’s main problem, albeit a welcome one, will be how to decide his best XI from Spain’s vast pool of players.
However, if there is one player you can foresee emerging as a real star for Spain this summer it’s Isco.
The 26-year-old has really elevated his game for club and country in the last 12 months and could be the player to inspire Spain to World Cup glory for the second time in the last eight years.
Isco has scored seven goals in his last seven outings for Spain, including a stunning 76-minute hat-trick against Argentina in March.
In addition to picking three central midfielders out from the likes of Sergio Busquets, Isco, David Silva, Thiago Alcantara, Andres Iniesta, Koke and Saul Niguez, Lopetegui also has decide on Spain’s striker for the tournament.
Alvaro Morata would have been the favourite at the start of the season but now there are doubts whether he will even be picked to go the tournament.
Diego Costa will also be in the running but given he has only played six months of the season, coupled with his struggles adapting to the Spanish national team, Lopetegui would be forgiven for having reservations.
Therefore, it could emerge that Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas is one to watch for Spain. Mocked for his time at Liverpool, Aspas has genuinely emerged as one of the best goalscorers in Spain in the last few years.
In fact, Aspas is the only Spanish player in Europe’s top five leagues to reach 20 goals this season, netting at least two more times than any other compatriot.
Aspas may not be the most universally popular player, but he could be an inspired selection by Lopetegui given his recent goalscoring form.