Spain World Cup Roster 2014: Updates on 23-Man Squad and Starting XI Projections
It always seemed a bit odd that Spain would have to qualify for the 2014 World Cup after winning the tournament in 2010, but nonetheless, the Spaniards found themselves battling for qualification and in a group with France, no less.
But not surprisingly, the two-time defending European champions won Group I with aplomb, remaining unbeaten after winning six qualifying games and drawing two.
Now, with a trip to Brazil this summer booked, the question turns to which players will qualify for the squad.
Here, we'll track the latest updates surrounding the Spanish national side and project the team's starting 11 as they attempt to repeat as World Cup champions.
Feb 28: Diego Costa Named in Friendly Squad to Face Italy, Juan Mata Misses out
Diego Costa has been named in Spain's squad to face Italy by veteran coach Vicente Del Bosque, who opted to leave world-renowned names such as Juan Mata, Fernando Torres and Carles Puyol out of his lineup.
"Costa is there on merit for his form with Atletico Madrid," said Del Bosque. "It doesn’t commit either party."
Brazilian-born Costa is fighting for a place at the World Cup with the current holders and receives his second call-up to the national team. Although selected for November's round of friendly fixtures, the 25-year-old missed out on making his debut after succumbing to injury, reported by BBC Sport.
He made two appearances for Brazil, both in friendly matches, before the player pursued the option of a future with Spain.
For the likes of Mata, Torres and Puyol, one has to question whether or not disappointing individual seasons will hamper the trio's involvement in the upcoming Brazilian festivities.
Oct. 17: Diego Costa to Join Spain?
Imagine having dual nationality for two of the most decorated soccer countries in the world, Spain and Brazil.
Which country would you choose to play for?
Well, if you were Diego Costa, the answer would appear to be Spain.
Costa, who was a summer target for Liverpool, met Del Bosque last week at Spain’s Cuidad de Futbol headquarters and indicated in the meeting that if the manager called him and officially offered him a place in the squad, he would accept.
On Tuesday night, after Spain sealed their place in the tournament next summer, Del Bosque said he would now make the call and ask the player to officially to declare his allegiance.
Spain then understand that Costa, who has two Brazilian caps in friendlies, will publicly declare he wants to play for them. This will bring an end to their tug-of-war with Brazil and the messy possibility that both nations will call-up the Atletico Madrid striker in November, leaving him to make the agonising choice between the two.
Costa has more than made up for the loss of Radamel Falcao at Atletico Madrid this season, with a whopping 10 goals in eight La Liga games. Few positions on the Spanish national team are more uncertain than at forward, but if Costa continues his current run of form, the decision will be pretty simple.
Perhaps watching Brazil dismantle the defending World Cup champions in the Confederations Cup final this past summer, 3-0, will sway his decision yet.
But it sounds as though Costa is more intrigued by Spain. Add one more star to the country already stacked with the world's top talent.
Projected Starting XI
While there is a very defined core group of players for Spain, there are still spots to be won.
Based on recent international fixtures—and the quality shown by fringe players at the club level—we can project which players will be starring for La Furia Roja next June.
Projected Starting XI
GK: Victor Valdes
RB: Alvaro Arbeloa
CB: Sergio Ramos
CB: Gerard Pique
LB: Jordi Alba
DM: Sergio Busquets
CM: Andres Iniesta
RM: Cesc Fabregas
F: Alvaro Negredo
GK: Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina
DF: Nacho Monreal, Raul Albiol, Daniel Carvajal
MF: Jesus Navas, David Silva, Juan Mata, Isco, Xabi Alonso
F: Diego Costa, David Villa
GK: David de Gea
DF: Carles Puyol, Juanfran, Marc Bartra, Cesar Azpilicueta
MF: Thiago Alcantara, Koke, Mario Suarez, Javi Martinez, Javi Garcia, Santi Cazorla, Asier Illarramendi