Spain axes Xavi and Pique

The Barcelona pair are the primary victims of La Roja’s heavy opening defeat, with Busquets and Martinez to step into the starting XI
Spain boss Vicente del Bosque has made a couple of notable alterations in his starting XI to face Chile, dropping Xavi and Gerard Pique to the bench.

After losing their opening World Cup match against Netherlands by a 5-1 margin, the reigning world and European champions must earn a positive result against the Chileans to maintain a meaningful hope of qualifying for the last 16, and as such the coach has made changes in his unit.

The highest profile players to drop out of the panel for the clash are the Barcelona duo, with club-mate Sergio Busquets and Bayern Munich’s Javi Martinez deputizing.

Between them, Xavi and Pique have accumulated nearly 200 international appearances and have been part of the bedrock of a team that has won all of the last three major international competitions it has entered.

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Martinez, meanwhile, is more typically a holding midfielder than a center back, where he has been used sparingly by Pep Guardiola at club level, but has been preferred to both Pique and Raul Albiol in this role for this vital encounter.

No other changes have been made by Del Bosque, who has otherwise kept faith with a side so intensely criticized after its opening clash.