Spain meet familiar European rivals Germany in their second group stage match on Sunday night.
La Roja and Germany have been pitted against one another in four previous World Cups. Back in 1994, when they met in the searing heat of Chicago’s Soldier Field, Luis Enrique was patrolling Spain’s midfield.
Nearly three decades on, here’s the lineup Enrique may deploy against Germany now that he stalks the technical area.
GK: Unai Simon – Enrique’s undisputed first-choice carries the slip of paper which contains Switzerland’s penalty-taking tendencies everywhere he goes after they helped Spain with the quarter-final shootout at Euro 2020. Simon considers it a good luck charm even though Spain lost the semi-final on spot kicks to Italy – those notes haven’t been kept.
RB: Dani Carvajal – The Real Madrid full-back missed Spain’s opener after sitting out a training session with flu but could be in line for a recall this weekend.
CB: Aymeric Laporte – In a match where Spain’s passing figures hit four digits, Laporte found his teammates more often than any other player on the pitch against Costa Rica.
CB: Pau Torres – With possession against Costa Rica guaranteed, Rodri scarcely spent much time defending as an unnatural centre-back. Up against a German side that should theoretically pose more threat, Enrique might turn to a more orthodox defender.
LB: Jordi Alba – For the second tournament in a row, Alba has reiterated the message: “The World Cup is the only trophy missing from my honours.” If Spain continue to play like they – and Alba in particular – did against Costa Rica, his set could soon be complete.
CM: Pedri – The Barcelona midfielder is closely tied to an NGO which is attempting to reduce the consumption of plastic. Ironically, Pedri won the affection of many fans when he was spotted walking into the Camp Nou dressing room with his personal items in a plastic bag rather than the designer backpacks sported by his teammates.
CM: Sergio Busquets – Before this year’s tournament had even kicked off, Enrique had his sights set on taking Busquets to the 2026 World Cup. “My objective is to convince him to play another one,” Enrique said.
CM: Gavi – Only two players in World Cup history, Mexico’s Manuel Rosas and a certain Pele have scored on the global stage at a younger age than Spain’s 18-year-old prodigy.
RW: Ferran Torres – When discussing Alvaro Morata, Enrique’s predecessor Robert Moreno said: “You’d be open to have this type of person with your daughter.” Yet, Torres has trumped his compatriot by actually entering a relationship with the daughter of Spain’s current manager.
ST: Marco Asensio – Real Madrid’s overlooked outlet has started as many games at this World Cup as he has in La Liga this season (one).
LW: Dani Olmo – The 24-year-old had to wait less than 200 seconds before clocking up his first international goal. Olmo needed 11 minutes to score the first of Spain’s seven in midweek.
Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Grizz Khan and Jack Gallagher to look back on France ’98 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!
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