Spain head to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with a settled squad and coaching setup.

After the catastrophic bereavement process Luis Enrique had to go through in his personal life, the Spanish coach returned to lead La Roja into Euro 2020.

It was a tournament that didn’t start especially well. The former Barcelona coach had been absent for much of the qualification process. Many were unhappy that he retook control from Robert Moreno.

Draws with Poland and Sweden left Spain needing to defeat Slovakia to make it into the knockout stage. Spain won 5-0. Then, it beat Croatia and Switzerland to reach the semifinal. and then beat Switzerland and Croatia to reach the semi-final.

Eventual winners Italy eliminated Luis Enrique’s side at that point. But, Enrique reestablished his credibility.

Now, he is heading to Qatar with fans and players completely behind him. La Roja recognize their golden generation is gone. Nevertheless, hopes are still high for the World Cup.

Many want to know whether they can win the tournament. Perhaps that goal is too lofty for a young Spanish side.

Tempering expectations

Luis Enrique has made bold decisions with his squad selection for the World Cup. There isn’t a space for either David de Gea or Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Such a decision would have been unthinkable when he first took charge. Thiago Alcantara didn’t make the cut whilst Gavi and Pedri will lead the team in midfield.

When you look at the Spanish squad headed to Qatar you are immediately struck by something. There isn’t a world class player in it. Sergio Busquets would have been, once. Yet, he declined as he aged. There are some truly elite players on this squad. For example, Rodri, Aymeric Laporte and Pedri are world class. But, none are the best of the best.

Spanish fans were able to enjoy living through their glorious period which began in 2008. They had Iker Casillas, Gerard Pique, Xavi, Busquets and Andres Iniesta. At the same time, it would have been completely legitimate to claim Spain had the best goalkeeper, center-half and midfield trio in world soccer all in one single team.

That’s no longer there. It has been more of a return to problems the Spanish faced between 1980 and 2005. They have a lot of brilliant players, but no generationally talented ones.

This has potential to be an issue. However, Luis Enrique has a strong squad who are well drilled in playing together. Euro 2020 showed the work the coach has put in. The style of soccer from the Spanish team was attractive and they could have gone to the final.

Playing in the World Cup is much harder. There is more pressure and a wider variety of teams who can challenge you. Spain need to avoid trying to run before they can walk. Aiming for the semi-final would be realistic and a fair target.

Spain chances of winning World Cup 2022

Having been drawn in Group E alongside Costa Rica, Japan and Germany, La Roja are expected to reach the knockout phase. Playing Germany second is a blessing. It allows Luis Enrique’s side to avoid losing first and then having to play catchup for the remainder of the group. No matter where Spain finish in Group E, they will face a difficult match in the round of 16.

Both Croatia and Belgium expect to come through Group F, and will pose a challenge to Spain. Possible meetings with Brazil or Portugal could follow, both of which would be difficult. If you are to talk about individual talent, Spain don’t have enough to win the tournament. If they come up against Kylian Mbappe, Neymar or Lionel Messi their defense will struggle.

Picking a Spain win from matches against any of France, Argentina or Brazil isn’t easy. It’s difficult to see them beating any of those teams. That is, ultimately, where La Roja will fall short at the 2022 World Cup. Only a fortunate draw will allow them to win the World Cup.


Guide to World Cup 2022

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of the biggest event in soccer!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
The Groups: We breakdown each group and all the teams
The Kits: Check out what every team will be wearing on the field this fall
Predictor: Play out every scenario with our World Cup Predictor
World Cup Bracket: Map out the entire tournament, from the groups to the final