MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 1: Marco Asensio of Spain during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Spain and Russia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 1, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

How a Resurrected Spain Might Line Up Under Luis Enrique at the 2022 World Cup

Despite the years of international dominance from 2008 to 2012, Spain's one World Cup win in the middle of that era stands out like an aberration when looking at their tournament history before and after. 


Even while keeping the core of the team that lifted Jules Rimet in South Africa 2010 under Vicente Del Bosque - and adding some of the most talented young players the world has to offer - La Roja have won just twice in the subsequent two World Cups, zero of which were knockout games. 


The challenge facing new boss Luis Enrique is clear but by no means easy. Transition out the older stars, before they represent underachievement more than success, and find the new ones to stop 2010 from becoming a distant, unrepeatable memory.


Here's a very early and very hypothetical look at how that team might look under Luis Enrique at the next World Cup in 2022...

1. GK: David de Gea

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 32


Uncharacteristically generous performances in Russia aside, there is little reason to suspect De Gea won't be first choice in four and a half years' time in Qatar. At 32, he should still be in his goalkeeping prime. However, so will La Roja's other obvious contender: Kepa.


Other option(s): Kepa Arrizabalaga (28)

2. RB: Álvaro Odriozola

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 26


An unused squad member at the 2018 World Cup, with Dani Carvajal and Nacho preferred at right back, Alvaro's time with Spain's senior team will come.


Untainted by Spain's failure and after impressing for two seasons with Real Sociedad, he secured a €35m move to Real Madrid this July, where he will vie with Carvajal for the right back slot.


Other option(s): Dani Carvajal (30)

3. LB: Alex Grimaldo

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 26


An exciting full back, who came through the youth systems of Valencia and Barcelona before moving to Portuguese football and Benfica.


Overlooked by Enrique during his time at Barça, the attacking left back - who has been linked with a host of top European clubs (most recently Tottenham) - may be the best option the new Spain boss has to succeed Jordi Alba long term.


Other option(s): Jose Gaya (27), Aarón Martín (25)

4. CB: Unai Núñez

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 25


Perhaps the biggest conundrum facing Luis Enrique and the Spanish national team in the short to medium term is finding a new central defensive pairing. 


Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, who have been the bedrock of La Roja since 2010, will not be around much longer and while the likes of Nacho Fernandez and Athletic Club's €32m January signing Iñigo Martinez may help bridge the transition to the next Euros, they are less probable candidates to form the next long term partnership for Spain.


Enter Unai Núñez. The Athletic youngster was one of the revelations of last season, after impressing in his maiden senior campaign in La Liga and attracting interest from Barcelona. He is likely to be playing at a top club (if not Barça) by the time Qatar roles around.


Other option(s): Iñigo Martinez (31), Nacho Fernandez (32)

5. CB: Jorge Mere

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 25


The vice-captain of Spain's Under-21s, Mere has more top level first team experience than most his age, having played two full seasons in La Liga with Sporting Gijon, before moving to FC Köln last summer. Less impressively, he also has two relegations under his belt in successive seasons.


However, aggressive in the tackle and quick on the ground, the Asturian Mere, who is also comfortable on the ball, could use these formative experiences in first team football - while many of his contemporaries have played it safe in their career development - to fast-track his way into becoming the complete defender.


Other option(s): Jesus Vallejo (25), Yeray Alvarez (27)

6. CM: Rodri

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 26


Often touted as Sergio Busquets' natural heir, Rodri made his senior debut for Spain in the buildup to the World Cup but was left out of the final 23-man squad.


A regular for Spain at youth level, Rodri rejoined Atletico Madrid this summer after three years with Villarreal and will likely replace Gabi in Diego Simeone's revamped engine room.


Rangey and as comfortable starting attacks as cutting them out, the Madrid-born starlet was among those who lifted the Under-19 Euros in 2015.


Other option(s): Sergi Roberto (30), Marcos Llorente (27)

7. CM: Saul Ñiguez

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 28


Like Alvaro, Saul didn't get a chance to impress in Spain's midfield at the World Cup with his Atleti teammate Koke's metronomic (if not penetrative) style preferred by Fernando Hierro.


However, over the next few years Enrique should find space for the busy Saul, who has become the archetypal Simeone player and possesses both the industry and versatility to excel in any system.


Other option(s): Thiago (31)

8. CM: Dani Ceballos

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 25


Not the first to see his career stall after a move to Real Madrid, Ceballos - player of the tournament at the 2017 Under-21 Euros - will hope to see more domestic game time under new boss Julen Lopetegui, or move on to avoid stagnating. He played fewer than 500 minutes in 2017/18 in all competitions.


A fine dribbler and passer, with excellent technical abilities, Ceballos will surely become the classic Spanish playmaker if his temperament and career planning allow. If not, his former Betis teammate Fabian Ruiz (now at Napoli) and Villarreal assist king Pablo Fornals wait in the wings.


Other option(s): Fabian Ruiz (26), Pablo Fornals (26)

9. FW: Isco

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 30


One of few to come out of the World Cup with any credit, Isco showed flashes of his class but was often unable to provide the spark of invention to get his country over the line - particularly in the round of 16 defeat to Russia.


Already a key man for country, the boy from Benalmadena, who made his senior debut the year after Spain won their last senior tournament, could be captain material by the time the next World Cup comes around.


Other option(s): Mikel Oyarzabal (25)

10. FW: Marco Asensio

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 26


One of the (if not the most) exciting talents in Spanish football currently, Asensio should be in his pomp come 2022. Defenders beware.


The flying Majorcan-born winger is already into double figures for senior caps, despite competition from some of the biggest names in world football for a place in Spain's attack. At 22, he is a double Champions League winner with all-conquering Real Madrid - and scored in the 2017 final rout of Juventus.


He must now transfer his club trajectory to international level as the onus for flair, creativity and goals moves from the old guard to the new.


Other option(s): Iñaki Williams (28), Jordi Mboula (23)

11. FW: Mariano Diaz

Age at time of 2022 World Cup: 28


Centre forward has been an issue for some time in the Spain team. Diego Costa and Iago Aspas, who are both flawed options, are unlikely to still be anywhere near their peak in 2022.


Should Rodrigo keep up his 2017/18 domestic form he may well get more chances in the short term, but Enrique will surely also be keeping an eye on Lyon's Mariano Diaz.


A Catalan-born Real Madrid castoff, Mariano was prolific at B and C level for Los Blancos but found the door to the first team impossible to break down and sought pastures new in Ligue 1. 


After a standout season in which he netted 18 times for his new club, there has even been talk of Real re-signing the poacher, who is still available for Spain selection despite having one cap in a friendly for Dominican Republic.


Other option(s): Abel Ruiz (22)