Spain go head-to-head with Morocco in their World Cup round of 16 tie on Tuesday afternoon.
“If anyone’s going to beat us at the World Cup," Luis Enrique boasted on the eve of the tournament, "they’ll really have to be on their game.” Japan certainly proved to be too much for Spain to handle on Thursday, inflicting La Roja's first defeat in normal time at a major tournament since the last 16 of Euro 2016.
Here's the XI Enrique may deploy to ensure Spain avoid another defeat.
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GK: Unai Simon - Surrounded by friends that keep him grounded, Simon returned from Spain's run to the semi-finals of the European Championships in 2021 and was met with the genuine question: "So, how was your summer?"
RB: Dani Carvajal - Within six minutes of Carvajal's half-time introduction, Spain had conceded twice against Japan. He'll certainly be hoping for a better personal twist of fate if he starts on Tuesday.
CB: Rodri - Spain are based at Qatar University during the tournament. These will be familiar surroundings for Rodri who lived in the University of Castellon's halls of residence during his first season as a professional footballer.
CB: Aymeric Laporte - A player who admits he's "not a football addict" isn't bogged down by minor details. “Honestly, when I play for City," he said recently, "I don’t even know what time kick-off is."
LB: Jordi Alba - La Liga's all-time leading assist-maker among defenders has already created two goals in Qatar.
CM: Pedri - Barcelona's prodigious 20-year-old has completed more passes into the final third (44) at this World Cup than the entire Moroccan team combined (42).
CM: Sergio Busquets - Father Time seems to loom ever larger for the 34-year-old but it would be a significant surprise if Enrique overlooks the veteran on Tuesday.
CM: Gavi - The 18-year-old is the youngest player in the second-youngest Spain squad ever to go to a men's World Cup finals.
RW: Ferran Torres - Last year, Torres collaborated with Homme to release a vegan deodorant with "a unique scent of birch tree". Torres is quoted as saying (though it wreaks of PR babble - and birch): “High performance, (just like me).”
ST: Alvaro Morata - With a goal in each group game, Morata became the first Spaniard to score in his first three appearances at the men's World Cup since the legendary figure of Telmo Zarra in 1950.
LW: Dani Olmo - No player whose nation made it into the knockout round failed with more dribbles than the evidently not-so-tricky Olmo (13).
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