Soccer: Lopetegui blends youth and experience in Spain World Cup squad

BARCELONA (Reuters) - 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 center 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.

Squad:

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).

(Reporting by Rik Sharma, editing by Ed Osmond)

05/21/2018 7:34

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