World Cup team Preview – Spain
They went from back-to-back European Champions and World Cup winners in 2010, to a complete breakdown in 2014, not even making it past the group stages in Brazil. In 2016 they were second in the group stage, getting knocked out straight away by Italy. Spain have been transitioning for a couple of years now and will want to bounce back to the trophy-hunt in Russia.
Julien Lopetegui was brought in to lead the side after the last tournament and they’ve been undefeated since. They finished top in their qualifying campaign with nine wins and a draw in a group that contained Italy. The manager spent years with the Spanish youth sides and hasn’t been afraid to call up players from younger generations, nor has he refrained from calling up in-form players even if they don’t play for elite teams.
The group stage draw ended up joining them with Iran, Morocco and Iberian neighbors Portugal. One of those groups where it’s fair to say that two teams are major candidates to go through. And, while Portugal are European Champions who will very much have a word to say in the group, Spain is likely to edge it for top spot. Their amount of talent is still immense, seem well organized now and have proved they can beat big teams.
Going through top would see them face the second team from Group A, a tough one to predict but one that should be rather easy to overcome by Spain regardless. In the quarters, chances are they’ll face Argentina and from then on it’s a tough path to predict. Facing Messi and Sampaoli’s Argentina will make for a 50/50 that the world will stop to watch. Between that game and, if they go through, the following one – likely against Germany -, I believe they’ll be stopped. With odds at 4.33 for the quarter-finals and at 5.5 for the semi-finals, you should take one of the two as your Stage-of-Elimination bet depending on how confident you are about the quarters face-off.
The top scorer bet is another interesting one to look at, especially having in account Spain don’t usually carry a major goalscorer in their side – not in a sense of necessity for them to score, at least. Morata has taken over as the main striker, being the team’s top scorer in the 2016 Euro and in the qualifiers. But the Spaniards has fallen somewhat out of favor at Chelsea between injuries and a couple of lackluster performances. He might still be the main man in Russia but there are a couple of players with bigger odds who we might get lucky on.
The other couple of players who are fighting to lead La Roja’s frontline could do a very decent job. Rodrigo particularly is having a fantastic season with Valencia and has been getting call-ups as of late. His chances of being on the plane to Russia are high and, if he gets time on the pitch, he will score goals – with his top scorer odd at 21, it’s one worth looking at. Iago Aspas with his odd at 13 at the moment is also a good shout – the Celta captain can also play from wide so has an even higher chance to get time on the pitch and is a lot more vertical and goal-driven than the other wide players on the squad.
David Silva is already having his second best ever goalscoring season and we’re only in March, but the odds for him to be the team top scorer are much closer to Morata than to Rodrigo’s. Diego Costa has regained his form since moving back to Madrid but is yet to really find his fit within the Spanish line-up so it seems unwise to back him up.
Spain to be eliminated in the quarterfinals at 4.33
Top team goalscorer: Aspas at 13.00 and Rodrigo at 21.00