10 Spain Players Who Have Already Clinched Spots on 2014 World Cup Roster
The defending World Cup Champions Spain will be hoping to win a fourth consecutive major tournament at the international level when the biggest competition on the FIFA calender kicks off in the summer of 2014.
The national team squad has been largely settled since their 2008 European Championships success, with just a few players coming in to replace those who have fallen out of form or favour, or whose age has robbed them of the chance to continue representing their country.
Right now, there are several players who can be assured of their places on the plane to Brazil in 2014, should Spain progress through their qualification group, where they are currently unbeaten.
Twenty-three players will eventually make the cut. Here are those who, fitness permitting, can be safe in the knowledge that they will in the Spain squad to defend their trophy in South America.
Name: Iker Casillas
Spain's No.1 goalkeeper and national team captain, Casillas is a guaranteed member of the squad and starter in the team.
His regular presence in the squad has helped Spain on their way to two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup.
Casillas will surpass the 150-cap mark at some time before the World Cup, which will move him likely into the top 12 all time most experienced internationals.
There can be no player more secure of his place on the plane than Casillas.
Name: Sergio Ramos
Position: Right / Centre-Back
In defence, the first player who is certain to be on the plane is Casillas' Real Madrid team-mate, Sergio Ramos.
Ramos is almost certain to reach the century-of-caps mark before age 27, quite a phenomenal achievement.
Ramos has been both centre- and full-back for Spain during their run of tournament wins, but is perhaps likely to feature centrally during the forthcoming World Cup.
Name: Jordi Alba
Barcelona's attacking left-back is one of the best in the game.
During Euro 2012 he formed a formidable partnership down the left flank with Andres Iniesta, bombing forward into space and making penetrating runs into the opposition penalty area.
In the midst of Spain's all-out-possession approach to matches, Alba's thrusting play down the channels offers a valuable alternative.
Name: Alvaro Arbeloa
Position: Right-back / left-back
For a long time seen as the perfect back-up for both Real Madrid and Spain, Alvaro Arbeloa has this season (and during the Euros) established himself as a reliable, prominent and excellent first team performer at full-back.
Arbeloa has amassed close to 50 caps for the best international team on the planet, no easy achievement.
His position in the starting XI might still be under threat depending on others who may or may not make the squad, but Arbeloa will himself definitely be in the squad.
Player: Sergio Busquets
Position: Defensive midfield
Caps: 50 caps
One of the first names on the team-sheet, Sergio Busquets divides opinion from football fans over whether his theatrics outweigh his abilities as a player, but neither Barcelona nor Spain managers seem overly concerned enough to leave him out.
No surprise—Busquets is one of the finest holding-midfielders in terms of his positional play, ball-winning and distribution.
As an added bonus for Spain, he has also covered for them recently at centre-back—a position he has filled for his club with distinction when needed.
Name: Xavi Hernandez
Position: Central midfield
Spain's best player of the elder generation in this particular team, Xavi is the usually the most-advanced of Spain's three central midfielders.
His creativity and technical ability to find his team-mates in tight spaces—when the opposition usually packs the defence—is a vital weapon in Spain's armoury.
There can be no doubt about Xavi's spot on the plane, and in the team.
Name: Xabi Alonso
Position: Central midfield
Like Sergio and Xavi before him, Xabi Alonso is a guaranteed name on the plane and in Spain's starting XI.
An experienced central midfielder, Alonso can dictate the flow and tempo of a game and has also become a regular goal threat with the addition of Busquets providing additional cover behind him.
Sergio-Alonso-Xavi will likely be the central triumvirate of the national team for the remainder of the qualifying period when available, and also in the World Cup itself.
Name: Andres Iniesta
Position: Attacking midfielder
Caps: 76 caps
Fit and in-form, perhaps the greatest technical and creative player that Spain possesses, Andres Iniesta is a definite for the World Cup and also the starting XI.
Iniesta plays either as an advanced central midfielder or from the left side of the attack, but in either case with ample licence to roam, play and create as he will.
He is frequently the player who can find the way through for his nation to score the goals they need, even if he has scored them himself with less regularity than might be expected for so talented a player.
Iniesta scored the winning goal of the last World Cup.
Name: Cesc Fabregas
Position: Attacking midfielder / false nine forward
Fabregas is not even a guaranteed starter for his team Barcelona on a week by week basis, and the same largely applies to Spain—but he fills a pivotal role for both nonetheless.
Though primarily an attacking midfielder by his favoured position, Cesc operates as a false nine striker for his country when Vicente del Bosque decides not to play with an out and out striker in his team.
Cesc gives Spain tactical flexibility as well as being one of the squad who are capable of scoring goals—though perhaps not via penalty-taking.
Name: David Silva
Position: Attacking midfielder / winger
Spain have a magnificent array of attacking talent at their disposal and David Silva is the first choice, by and large, out of any of them.
Silva raids from the right flank infield, dribbling and running at the opposition defence and looking to carve out chances for his attacking teammates.
The Manchester City attacker also gets through his share of defensive work, pressing hard and tracking back when necessary.
And a Few "Probables"
In truth, Spain have several other players who have more than a great chance of being involved in the World Cup squad—provided they stay fit and in-favour at their clubs.
Defender Gerard Pique and attacking midfielder Pedro Rodriguez, both of Barcelona, will certainly be in the squad, while Pique is dead certain for the team if he can overcome his injury troubles of this season.
Up front, one or both strikers of David Villa and Fernando Torres should be in the squad, though Torres will only play if Cesc Fabregas does not make the starting XI.
There is also the matter of the two back-up goalkeepers to Iker Casillas; all things being normal, Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina will play the support act roles, but neither will be expected to play.