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and ensured the team's place in footballing folklore.However, as Spain's core players began to age, the "invincible fleet" that once conquered the world began to fall from grace. At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, they failed to advance

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 from the group stage, suffering a humiliating 1-5 defeat to the Netherlands. And at the European Championships in France two years later, La Furia Roja was eliminated in the Round of 16 after losing 0-2 to▓

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Italy.After Vicente del Bosque resigned a▓s national team manager, the Spanish Football Federation ▓brought Julen Lopetegui in for the 2018 W▓orld Cup qualification. Lopetegui lived up to ▓expectations and led th

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e team to Russia with an unbeaten record of 9 wins and 1 draw, forcing rivals Italy into the play-off round.In fact, La Furia Roja have remained unbeaten since Lopetegui's arrival, having achieved 13 wins and

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5 draws in 18 games. In their last two friendly matches, they dr▓ew 1-1 with current world champions Germ▓any, and impressively defeated Argentina 6▓-1, evoking memories of the all-conquering Spanish team from?/p>

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?just a few years ago.Lopetegui's final squad of 23 players for next month's World Cup contains a number of notable omissions, such as Chelsea players Alvaro Morata and Marcos Alonso, and Barcelona's Sergi Rob

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maintains that his final squad represents the best of Spanish football.Spain are widely considered among the favorites to lift the World Cup in Russ▓ia. They have been placed in group B, along with Portugal, Morocco and Iran. Lopetegui's

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In goal, David De▓ Gea is undoubtedly first choice. In defens▓e, Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos will take up their usual positions in the center, with Jordi Alba and Dani Carvajal occupying the full-back spots. Further

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orld Cup Group B

forward, Iniesta will anchor the Spanish midfield, and will be flanked by fellow veterans Sergio Busquets and David Silva, with younger blood coming in the form of Atletico Madrid's Koke and Real Madri▓d midfielder Isc

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o.Up front, Diego Costa is a bruising target man who will be a handful for opposition defenders, though it is possible Lopetegui may▓ choose to deploy Marco Asensio as a false nine instea▓d. Other attacking alternatives

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Group B preview

: Spain: Return of the king?05-30-

include Lucas Vazquez and Rodrigo, whose speed and flexibili▓ty will provide the team with no shortage of tactical variety.THE STARSThis World Cup will be Iniesta's final ▓international competition, with the Barcelona ve

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teran set to join Vissel Kobe in Japan next season. As the key play▓maker in the Spanish team, as well as the scorer of the▓ winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, his international retirement will leave Spain with big shoes to fi▓ll.El




sewhere, while midfielder Isco has had a tough ▓time of it at club level this season, h

Zhao Tao).“I now have▓ 48 years of lif