Spain are just a shadow of what they once were, and come into this World Cup nowhere near their best. In what is their twelfth World Cup outing in a row, this would perhaps be one of the most surprising if they were to make it to the final stages.
Delve deep into the stats below for any Spanish bet builder in Qatar. You’ll be able to take some educated guesses at players for goals, shots, fouls and cards, as well as most other betting markets using both team and player statistics from their successful World Cup qualifiers. I’ve done a Stats Pack Guide to help you out with making best use of the data too.
Across the 8 qualifiers, La Furia Roja eased through with 6 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss – a 2-1 loss in Sweden.
As far as exciting, open football goes, that’s not what Spain are about. Despite averaging a ridiculous 73.7% possession the ball, the Spaniard’s attacks only led to a shot under 14 times per 90.
To explain that failure to create decent chances (xG 1.94), they made 333.61 lateral passes per 90 minutes. For some perspective the next best in their group was Greece with just 153.86.
Their style of play clarifies a lot of both Spain and opponents’ statistics. Their group opposition managed less than 5 shots on average, less than 3 corners and cards don’t tend to flurry in.
Gone are the days of the Xavi – Iniesta – Busquets Barcelona trio, but the latter is still expected to start in midfield over Man City’s Rodri, with Barca youth of Pedri and Gavi possibly playing off him.
The Spanish side is screaming for a number 9, and Alvaro Morata will stake his claim despite Ferran Torres deputising in that position during the qualifiers.
There’s much competition at the back, with Valencia’s Jose Gaya and Hugo Guillamon, Villareal’s Pau Torres, Barcelona’s Eric Garcia, Jordi Alba and Marcos Alonso, Madrid’s Dani Carvajal, Leeds United’s Diego Llorente and Bilbao’s Inigo Martinez all fighting for a guaranteed 4 spots at the back.
Manager Luis Enrique will line up in a trademark Spanish 4-3-3 – a formation used 86.8% of the time during the qualifiers, which occasionally dropped back into a 4-1-4-1.
In a big early announcement, United’s David de Gea didn’t even make the 55-man provisional squad as Bilbao’s Unai Simon is expected to start.
PLAYER SHOTS AND SHOTS ON TARGET
With teams sitting back against the possession-based style, it’s no surprise that Spain only averaged 4.90 shots on target per 90 against much weaker opposition.
As previously mentioned, Ferran Torres (1.46 SOT p/90) tended to be deployed as the furthest forward, while Morata (1.65 SOT p/90) also made his name heard up top.
Many Spain fans have been screaming for Luis Enrique to start the likes of Ansu Fati and Marco Asensio who have had decent seasons for Barca and Madrid respectively, but the manager continued to pick out Pablo Sarabia (1.13 SOT p/90). The PSG fringe-man started 5 of Spain’s 6 Nations League games and came off the bench in the other.
PLAYER GOALS AND ASSISTS
Ferran Torres was potent in front of goal in the qualifiers, scoring 4 times in just 6 outings.
Alvaro Morata, Carlos Soler, Dani Olmo and Pablo Sarabia all got on the scoresheet twice during these games.
Morata (2), Sarabia (2) and Soler (1) also grabbed goals in the Nations League more recently, with Gavi, Inigo Martinez and Jordi Alba also scoring.
SPAIN CARDS (FOR)
During the World Cup qualifiers, there were 8 Spanish cards and 8 different receivers. Defenders Carvajal (3.00), Martinez (1.00) and Alba (1.00) made the most fouls, while Busquets and Sarabia were also up their in the referee’s eyes.
Given the Spaniards dominated almost three quarters of the ball, it’s no surprise that they received just a single card a game on average.
During the Nations League, they managed to increase that average slightly, as they received 8 cards in 6 games – although two matches were against local rivals Portugal.
Dani Carvajal got his signature in the referee’s book twice, while defensive midfielders Rodri and Busquets got one apiece and are always good punts for a card.
They will be facing the likes of Leroy Sane (Germany), Joel Campbell (Costa Rica) and Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic) in the group stages alone.
SPAIN CARDS (Against)
Barca academy youngster and Kopa award winner Gavi was fouled an average of 2.92 times a game, and his midfield partner Sergio Busquets wasn’t far behind (2.43).
Little maestro and club teammate Pedri will also be tricky to deal with, and he’s fouled 1.73 times per 90 in La Liga.
I’d keep an eye on any midfielders they come up against with Celso Borges (Costa Rica) and Joshua Kimmich (Germany) just a couple of their first foes.
Up against Morata (2.01) or Torres (1.65) up top, Nico Schlotterbeck (Germany) managed 3 cards in 3 Nations League appearances and the South Korean centre-back pairing of Kim Min-Jae and Kim Young-Gwon managed two apiece in their World Cup qualifiers.