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Find out who will join Iniesta in Spain's World Cup squad

Last updated on: May 21, 2018 15:43 IST
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Lopetegui blends youth and experience in Spain World Cup squad

Andres Iniesta

IMAGE:  Spain's Sergio Busquets (left), Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta others share a joke during a training sessions. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui named his 23-man World Cup squad on Monday with a rich blend of youth and experience, as well as some high-profile absentees.


Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata was left out after a disappointing season in England, as was his team mate Marcos Alonso, with Arsenal's Nacho Monreal picked as back-up for left back Jordi Alba.

Lopetegui selected Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa, Celta Vigo's Iago Aspas and Valencia's Rodrigo Moreno as his three centre forwards, all relatively untested.

Costa, who had a disappointing tournament in Brazil in 2014 as Spain were knocked out at the group stage, has scored seven goals in 18 internationals.

Versatile Barcelona midfielder Sergi Roberto was also omitted while veteran playmaker Andres Iniesta heads to his fourth World Cup along with captain Sergio Ramos.

Isco, Marco Asensio, Nacho Fernandez, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez are going to the tournament for the first time along with their Real Madrid team mate Ramos.

Only four Barcelona players are in the Spain squad, down from seven Brazil four years ago.

The 2010 world champions face Switzerland on June 3 and Tunisia on June 9 in friendlies before their World Cup campaign begins against Portugal on June 15.


Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao).

Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad), Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Isco (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Koke (Atletico Madrid).

Forwards: Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid).


IMAGE: Paolo Guerrero gestures. Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

The world players' union FIFPro said it had written to FIFA to request that Peru captain Paolo Guerrero, banned from the World Cup over cocaine contained in a cup of tea, be allowed to participate in the tournament.

FIFPro said on Twitter that it was "hoping for a breakthrough in the next 24-48 hours".

Guerrero had just completed a six-month ban after testing positive for cocaine, contained in a tea he drank, when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) increased it to 14 months on Monday.

The extended ban, imposed after an appeal to CAS by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), means the 34-year-old will miss next month's World Cup where Peru have qualified for the first time in 36 years.

CAS increased the ban despite accepting that Peru’s all-time leading scorer did not intend to enhance performance and that he had not knowingly ingested the substance.

FIFPro has already criticised the ban as being disproportionate and said that the WADA code had been imposed on football without properly consulting the players.

Tea infused with coca leaves, which are used as the raw ingredient in cocaine, is popular in Andean countries and a traditional treatment for altitude sickness.


Nainggolan ends Belgium career after World Cup snub

Radja Nainggolan ended his international career on Monday after Belgium coach Roberto Martinez left the AS Roma midfielder out of his squad for next month's World Cup in Russia.


Despite past clashes over discipline, Martinez insisted he took what he knew was an unpopular decision for the good of the team.


"Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end," the 29-year-old Nainggolan wrote in English on Instagram an hour after Martinez made public a decision which he had broken to the player in person the night before in Rome.


Martinez said his offensive strategy since he took over following the team's Euro 2016 disappointment no longer offered a role to Nainggolan, despite his huge part in Roma's charge to the Champions League semi-finals this year.


The player himself, who also announced plans to retire last year after Martinez left him out, made clear he saw a clash of personality as an issue.


"I’ve always done everything I could to represent my country. Being yourself can be bothering" he said.


In his native Dutch, he said; "Unfortunately, being REAL is not enough for SOME PEOPLE", adding that the decision to quit international soccer gave him "much pain in my heart".


Martinez, who also sprung a surprise by not naming his final 23-man squad, declined to give details of what he called an "honest" talk with the player, who cemented his popularity among fans at Euro 2016 where Belgium reached the quarter-finals.


But his decision was tactical.


"We know that Radja has a very important role in his club and we cannot give him that role in our squad," Martinez told a news conference.

Arzani dreaming of World Cup berth after Socceroos swerve

Melbourne City teenager Daniel Arzani has shown a knack for dancing past defenders in the Australian top flight but his most telling off-field evasion might be sidestepping the country of his birth for the lure of a World Cup ticket with the Socceroos.

The Iran-born 19-year-old spent his early childhood playing in the streets of Khorramabad and remains eligible for the Middle Eastern heavyweights, who have also qualified for the Russia finals.

But Arzani has represented Australia at junior levels since migrating Down Under with his family and the winger all but pledged allegiance to his adopted nation in February.

His loyalty may be set for the ultimate reward, a berth in Australia's World Cup squad, if he impresses during a three-week training camp in Turkey.

"It'd be a dream come true," said uncapped Arzani, one of the biggest surprises in Dutchman Bert van Marwijk's preliminary squad.

"Since I was young, I've always dreamed of playing for Australia, playing for the Socceroos. To think that that could be happening in the next couple of weeks is amazing."

The youngest Socceroo at the Antalya camp, Arzani survived Van Marwijk's first cut down to 26 and is very much in the mix for the final 23.

Australia do not lack for skilled or diligent players across the field but are crying out for a bright spark to help conjure goals for a side that still finds a place for 38-year-old veteran Tim Cahill.

Arzani may be half the age of Australia's World Cup hero but he has been spoken of with a similar enthusiasm that Cahill generated in his formative years.

The teenager joined the Melbourne City setup in 2016 but was basically unused until January.

Two days after his 19th birthday, Arzani came off the bench to set up two goals and spark a 2-1 comeback win over Wellington Phoenix.

The breakthrough triggered a rich vein of form and he played a key role in pushing Warren Joyce-coached City into the playoffs before being awarded the A-League's "Young Player of the Year".

"We don't have anything like him as a player," former Australia defender Tony Vidmar, as assistant coach at City, told local media.

"He just has this belief and confidence that every time he gets the ball he can get past a player ... and he's proved that he can do it."

Arzani missed out on Van Marwijk's first squad named in March and the subsequent World Cup warmups against Norway and Colombia.

The snub fanned fears he might yet be swooped off by Carlos Queiroz-coached Iran but Van Marwijk said he needed a few more games to assess him.

"He is a player who can make a difference," the Dutchman said after naming Arzani in his preliminary 32-man squad.

"I like players who can make a difference. Maybe a world championship is too early, but I will not hesitate to nominate him if he can make a difference, in maybe the last 10-15 minutes."

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