Isco and Asensio can lead reborn Spain to another golden era

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Julen Lopetegui's La Roja put on a masterclass at the Santiago Bernabeu against Italy to show that the 2010 world champions are truly back in business

Spain broke an important psychological barrier when they beat Italy on penalties en route to the title at Euro 2008, so it was fitting that four years later from Poland and Ukraine they completed an unprecedented treble of Euros-World Cup-Euros by thrashing Italy 4-0 in the final.

That was to be the final fling for Vicente del Bosque's side as disppointment followed at the World Cup in Brazil, and defeat against the Azzurri again at Euro 2016 really was the curtain call. It seemed like the end of an era, the decay of a golden generation. But Spain showed on Saturday that they have another brilliant batch ready to pick up the baton.

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David Villa was brought back into the squad at the age of 35, but he was left on the bench until late on and this team owed more to youth. Isco, at 25, has three Champions League titles with Real Madrid, but incredibly no major tournament experience with his national side.

That will soon change, however. Isco was instrumental in Spain's spectacular 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, curling home a fantastic free-kick past Gianluigi Buffon to open the scoring and later adding another with a superb strike from long range.

Spain Italy graphic

That made it 2-0 at half-time and Spain were deserving of that advantage. Isco, with club colleague Marco Asensio dropping deep, Barcelona's Andres Iniesta controlling the tempo and Manchester City's David Silva in a false-nine role, played his part in a midfield masterclass along with Sergio Busquets and Koke.

While Xavi has long gone and Iniesta is nearing the end of a glorious career, this was like the Spain of yesteryear. And while there are still doubts over the striker - Villa was a late substitute, Alvaro Morata scored after coming off the bench and Diego Costa's away amid a dispute with Chelsea - this team can even survive without a centre forward.

This triumph has all but confirmed Spain's presence at Russia 2018 as La Roja move three points clear of Italy ahead of their remaining Group G games against Lichtenstein, Albania and Israel.

Lopetegui's side should win all of those and under the Basque boss, the Spain side seem to be taking shape again after the quarter-final exit to Italy at Euro 2016 last summer - the final fixture in Del Bosque's eight-year reign as coach.

isco Alarcon Spain Italy WC Qualifiers

Isco Alarcon Sergio Ramos Spain Italy WC Qualifiers

Many Spain supporters believed that signalled the end for their team in the elite, but it doesn't have to be. With Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Busquets, Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Dani Carvajal all still there, the basis for success remains.

Following Del Bosque's departure, the new generation have had a chance as well. Isco is in the finest form of his career, while Asensio, at 21, is Spain's new sensastion. Together, the two can lead another golden generation together along with their more experienced team-mates - just as they showed on Saturday.

And on this evidence, another World Cup win is well within their grasp.

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