Spain World Cup 2022 squad, predicted lineup vs Morocco and star players

Spain World Cup squad Pedri Busquets MorataGOAL

Spain's hope of achieving World Cup glory for the first time since 2010 are still alive, despite falling to a second-place finish in Group E.

A frantic group stage campaign saw La Roja start strong, but gradually show their mortality. A rampant win over Costa Rica was followed up by a draw against Germany and a shock defeat to surprise package Japan - who secured top spot in the group with another huge win.

Despite the streaky performances, Luis Enrique has a good record with the Spanish national team and an excellent talent pool to pick from.

Here's what to know as Spain approach the last 16:

  • Unai Simon, Spain, Euro 2020Getty

    GOALKEEPERS

    Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon started all three group stage games, and despite a wobble against Japan, will no doubt resume between the sticks against Morocco.

    He is fending off competition from Robert Sanchez and David Raya to remain Spain's No.1.

    Manchester United's David De Gea is among those to have been left out of the 26-man squad - he will feel as though he could've put in a match-winning display where Simon flopped in matchday three.

    Name

    Club

    Robert Sanchez

    Brighton

    David Raya

    Brentford

    Unai Simon

    Athletic Club

  • Aymeric Laporte Spain 2021Getty

    DEFENDERS

    One of the biggest questions facing Luis Enrique when it came to the Spanish defence was whether Paris Saint-Germain centre-half Sergio Ramos should be part of the final squad. His absence hasn't been felt too heavily just yet, although with Spain's team being young, his presence could be missed later on in the tournament.

    Cesar Azpilicueta, Dani Carvajal, Jordi Alba and Aymeric Laporte are all part of the 26-man party, with Spain boasting plenty of options at the back.

    Eric Garcia has proven to be a reliable option, but has been unable to earn Enrique's trust. Instead, he has opted to deploy Manchester City midfielder Rodri as a makeshift centre-back, alongside Laporte and his deputy Pau Torres.

    Name

    Club

    Cesar Azpilicueta

    Chelsea

    Hugo Guillamon

    Valencia

    Pau Torres

    Villarreal

    Eric Garcia

    Barcelona

    Alejandro Balde

    Barcelona

    Dani Carvajal

    Real Madrid

    Jordi Alba

    Barcelona

    Aymeric Laporte

    Manchester City

  • Gavi Spain 2022Getty Images

    MIDFIELDERS

    Spain boss Enrique has put his trust in an all Barcelona midfield three so far at the World Cup. And with how they've performed for the most part, it's unlikely he'll change on that front.

    Sergio Busquets has provided experience behind the youthful Pedri and Gavi, who have each starred in the group stages. Busquets hasn't proven flawless, though, and some shuffling around could be required the further they go.

    Carlos Soler and Marcos Llorente have been unable to make an impact, while Liverpool star Thiago Alcantara continues to watch on from home.

    Name

    Club

    Sergio Busquets

    Barcelona

    Marcos Llorente

    Atletico Madrid

    Pedri

    Barcelona

    Rodri

    Manchester City

    Koke

    Atletico Madrid

    Gavi

    Barcelona

    Carlos Soler

    PSG

  •  Alvaro Morata of Spain Getty Images

    ATTACKERS

    Pablo Sarabia, Alvaro Morata and Ferran Torres were expected to lead the line in Qatar, but Enrique has surprised with his selections.

    Torres started each of Spain's first two games, alongside Real Madrid's Marcos Asensio and RB Leipzig's Dani Olmo. However, Morata has made his presence felt, scoring three goals so far in an unexpected run for the Golden Boot award.

    Youngster Nico Williams seems to have earned the trust of the manager, while Ansu Fati has had to be patient for opportunities so far.

    Asensio has starred, but Morata's scoring form might just earn him a place in the XI moving forward.

    Name

    Club

    Alvaro Morata

    Atletico Madrid

    Yeremy Pino

    Villarreal

    Ferran Torres

    Barcelona

    Marco Asensio

    Real Madrid

    Pablo Sarabia

    PSG

    Dani Olmo

    RB Leipzig

    Nico Williams

    Athletic Club

    Ansu Fati

    Barcelona

  • SPAIN STAR PLAYERS

    Many have been surprised by the displays of the Spanish throughout the group stages, with their free-flowing football looking a lot less toothless than it so often has done in recent years.

    Rodri has been key to that. The midfielder has thrived in his role in central defence and is key to giving Spain a more dominant shape in games.

    But further up the field is where the magic really happens. Gavi and Pedri continue to steal the show at a young age, while Alvaro Morata has surprised just about everyone with his newfound ruthless streak in front of goal.

    It's that prolific form that has given Spain a much-needed edge to their play, and a different dimension when pinning back defences and aiming to cut crosses back into the box.

    Dani Olmo also deserves credit for his quietly impressive performances off the left flank. He flies under the radar in Germany, but brings an energy to Spain's wide areas, while also providing a tactical understanding and flair that allows him to punish full backs both positionally and when one against one.

  • LA ROJA'S STARTING XI VS MOROCCO

    If it's not broken, don't fix it. Spain aren't perfect, but Enrique will be pleased with what he's seen thus far.

    Simon can expect to continue between the sticks despite a poor night at the office against Japan.

    In front of him, Cesar Azpilicueta has proven the more reliable arm at right-back, while Jordi Alba has impressed on the opposite side. Rodri will undoubtedly continue at centre-back and City teammate Aymeric Laporte will most likely return to the XI alongside him.

    Busquets will form the base of the midfield and continue to dictate quietly behind the imperious duo of Gavi and Pedri.

    Asensio and Olmo should feel secure of their places, but Alvaro Morata could come in for Torres, shifting the Real Madrid forward out wide.

    Spain XI (4-3-3): Simon; Azpilicueta, Rodri, Laporte, Alba; Busquets, Gavi, Pedri; Asensio, Morata, Olmo

  • NOTABLE ABSENTEES

    David De Gea might continue to be the No.1 choice at Manchester United, but there is no room for him in the Spain squad under Luis Enrique for tactical reasons.

    Sergio Ramos had hoped to make the cut after proving his worth at PSG, but the veteran defender - who savoured global glory back in 2010 - will be watching on from afar. His absence could be felt when Spain need a serial winner later down the line.

    That is also the case for Marcos Alonso and Thiago Alcantara, with Enrique putting his faith in his nation's younger stars.