Brasilian player Vinícius Júnior. SUR
Spoiled for choice
A look at LaLiga

Spoiled for choice

It's conceivable that the only players at the World Cup from Spain's dominant two clubs could be playing in Brazil's colours

Friday, 22 March 2024, 15:18


The age-old belief was that the Spain national team was always an amalgamation of the best players from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Only Joan Capdevila broke into a starting eleven dominated by the "Big Two" for the 2010 World Cup Final. Two years later, David Silva was the only man to never play for Barça and Real when the team took to the field for the Euro 2012 final.

It's a sign of the times when it's conceivable that no players from the dominant pair are guaranteed a place in the 2024 national team.

This week's squad for the friendlies with Colombia and Brazil contains two players from each club at different ends of the age scale. 16-year-old Lamine Yamal is joined by seventeen-year-old Pau Cubarsí. Real's representatives, Dani Carvajal and Joselu are respectively double their ages.

In the ideal world, Yamal and Cubarsí should be away on a spring break with other teenagers as club and country should learn not to overplay developing talent. Pedri, Gavi and Ansu Fati have trodden that path previously and their young bodies are paying the price - I'm sure both arrive with a note from their club to be used sensibly.

It's also not a given that Dani Carvajal (32) and Joselu (34 later this month) will be starters. Carvajal is one of three right-backs; Joselu is likely to play the same role as he does for his club as an alternative striker. At least Real have representation: remember, at Euro 2020, none of their players made the plane.

There would have been one more Madridista if Málaga-born Brahim Díaz hadn't chosen Morocco - the country of his family roots - over Spain where he was born and raised.

Luis de la Fuente has a healthy mix of players from sixteen different clubs from five different leagues. The focus is very much on a team ethic although the accent will be very much Basque. Nine players are drawn from Athletic Club and Real Sociedad. The boss also played and coached in Bilbao. Football is a great unifier. It's odd that the national team won't play in the Basque Country but the heart of the squad is from that part of the map.

It's a side without any stand-out individual, with maybe the exception of serial Manchester City winner Rodri. It's a case of finding a blend to go with his dominance; de la Fuente has successfully mixed and matched his way to success. It's a solid rather than spectacular squad.

It would be easy to underestimate Spain heading into this summer's tournament. Opponents Brazil always generate excitement. The great irony is that they can, and probably will, select a forward line of players who are all from Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo are expected to be joined by teenage sensation Endrick who has pledged his future to the Liga leaders. Raphinha of Barcelona is almost certain to feature too. It's conceivable that the only players at the World Cup from Spain's dominant two clubs could be playing in the colours of Brazil.

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