Spain finish off the group stage against Japan on Thursday evening sitting top of their quartet which was dubbed this year's 'Group of Death'.
Spain may not have beaten Germany on Sunday night but the point they earned kept them above Die Nationalmannschaft, Japan and Costa Rica with four points in what Luis Enrique described as 'the only group that got ‘oohs’ when the draw was made'.
Here's the lineup Enrique may deploy knowing that victory would cement their status atop those feared standings.
- Japan vs Spain - World Cup: Team news, lineups & prediction
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Spain predicted lineup vs Japan (4-3-3)
GK: Unai Simon - Against Germany, Simon became the first player at this year's World Cup to make two errors leading to a shot in the same match. Neither was punished but Simon isn't a stranger to this risk. “I’ve made a lot of terrible mistakes since I was a kid, crazy goals,” he once admitted.
RB: Dani Carvajal - After shaking off an illness ahead of the opening game, Carvajal could be in line to start a second consecutive competitive international for the first time since 2018.
CB: Rodri - Enrique gave Rodri just 18 minutes in a pre-tournament friendly against Jordan to test him out at centre-back for the national team.
CB: Aymeric Laporte - The Manchester City centre-back has interests beyond football, owning his own esports team.
LB: Jordi Alba - In two matches at this World Cup, Alba has created as many goals (three) as he could muster across his previous 23 appearances at major international competitions.
CM: Pedri - The 20-year-old is a chief beneficiary of Enrique's criteria for selecting players. “Age and experience are not a problem for me,” the Spain manager stressed.
CM: Sergio Busquets - Spain's captain is the only player in the squad with more World Cup appearances (15) than Enrique (12).
CM: Koke - The Atletico Madrid stalwart is one of just two Spanish outfield players to have accrued 70-plus caps without scoring an international goal (Jose Antonio Camacho made 81 goalless appearances).
RW: Ferran Torres - Enrique warned that if Torres - who is in a relationship with the manager's daughter - performs a celebration that hints at a new member of the family, he would 'sub him out immediately, put him in the stands, and he’ll never set foot in a football pitch again'. Good to know.
ST: Alvaro Morata - Despite never having made a World Cup start, Morata has two goals in the competition.
LW: Dani Olmo - The so-called 'cyborg of the penalty area' fittingly scored Spain's first goal of the tournament from nine yards out.
Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan '02 as part of the 'Our World Cup' series. We take a trip down memory lane - join us!
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