Spanish manager Vicente del Bosque has today announced a provisional squad of 30 players ahead of the 2014 World Cup, where Spain will defend the trophy they won in 2010.
As expected, the squad is dominated by players from the three teams involved in the Spanish title race. Barcelona contribute seven players, including midfielders Xavi, Andrés Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, while Real Madrid contribute four. Despite having at times been relegated to the Madrid bench this season, Iker Casillas returns as captain.
Four players also come from Atletíco, the most notable being naturalised Brazilian Diego Costa, who will be expected to lead the line and carry his outstanding domestic season into the summer. Koke's fine season in midfield has been recognised, as has Ander Iturraspe's excellence with Athletic Bilbao, though Spain's plethora of midfield options may see both players miss out on the final squad in favour of more established internationals.
2014 World Cup
Perhaps the most notable absentee is Iturraspe's clubmate Ander Herrara, who has fallen victim to that same, ridiculous central overstocking. Roberto Soldado is missing from the forwards, though given his hugely disappointing season with Tottenham Hotspur, that comes as no surprise. Real Madrid youngsters Isco and Asier Illarramendi also miss out, presumably through a lack of playing time with their club. Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés is injured, meaning that Manchester United's David de Gea will travel as third choice.
The final 23-man squad will be announced on 25 May, and one thing is certain. Whoever makes it to Brazil, Spain will be leaving a lot of quality behind.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Napoli), David de Gea (Manchester United)
Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Raúl Albiol (Napoli), Javi Martínez (Bayern Munich), Juanfran Torres (Atletíco Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla)
Midfielders: Xavi Hernández (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), Koke Resurreción (Atletíco Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Ander Iturraspe (Athletic Bilbao), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Juan Mata (Manchester United), David Silva (Manchester City), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Jesus Navas (Manchester City)
Forwards: Diego Costa (Atletíco Madrid), David Villa (Atletíco Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Fernando Llorente (Juventus)