Atleti's Saúl is being tipped for the very top.
Atleti's Saúl is being tipped for the very top. / EFE


An embarrassment of riches

  • An 'alternative' Spain XI could still beat most international sides

As Gareth Southgate struggles to pull together a squad of players currently worthy of an international call-up, his Spanish counterpart has an embarrassment of riches.

I'd argue that the players Julen Lopetegui can't find a place for in this round of fixtures would give many other top nations an exceedingly competitive game.

It's a shame there isn't a transfer market for internationals as these players, overlooked by Spain, would get the call-up from the majority of nations.

In goal, we can go for Iker Casillas who would still be regarded as the number one in most countries.

Juanfran of Atlético Madrid could vie with Villarreal's Mario Gaspar and Barcelona's Sergi Roberto for the right-back role. Marcos Alonso of Chelsea would walk into the England team as left-back.

In my view, Iñigo Martínez is a top-class central defender and the bedrock of Real Sociedad's marked improvement this season. He's just unlucky to be playing in the era of Piqué and Ramos. Alongside him, I'd ask Aymeric Laporte, who is unsure which country to represent, to pin his colours to the Spanish flag.

Cesc Fàbregas would probably be captain of most countries but hasn't convinced the new Spain manager; he could partner Juan Mata, another who hasn't made the cut this time. I think Roque Mesa deserves recognition for the way he has orchestrated the Las Palmas band this season. Bruno Soriano of Villarreal would bring some ballast to my midfield.

Attack is the only area where Spain don't have an abundance of talent and is Lopetegui's weak area. Aritz Aduriz continues to defy the laws of nature and seems to be getting even better at the age of 36. Jesé Rodríguez is about the only striker not given a call-up so far so I'd give him a go, if only to allow me to travel to Las Palmas to check personally on his form.

I've restricted my selection to senior players because there's a whole raft of talent coming through the under-21 and youth teams. I'm expecting the likes of Real Madrid's Marco Asensio, Arsenal's Héctor Bellerín and Saúl Ñíguez of Atlético to graduate from the under 21s in the very near future.

It is difficult to argue with any of Lopetegui's choices. His team for the World Cup qualifier against Israel is pretty self-selecting.

It is a frighteningly strong team, still at its peak, and should qualify from the World Cup group.

If they need a tough game though, my 'rebel' team is ready and willing.