Luis Enrique has taken the bold move of announcing a 24-man squad for this summer’s European Championship.
The standout news was that he left out Sergio Ramos for the tournament despite having two extra spaces to fill. Enrique, who previously played for and managed Barcelona, did not pick a single Real Madrid player in his squad.
Spain take on Sweden, Poland and Slovakia in Group E at Euro 2020.
Who is their key player?
The Spanish will be looking to recapture the glory days when they won a World Cup sandwiched between two European Championships between 2008 and 2012.
If they are to do so, it’ll be in part thanks to Manchester City’s Rodri, who has taken on Sergio Busquets’ mantle as the conductor at the heart of the side.
While the defensive midfielder’s season involved winning the Premier League, it ended with a whimper as manager Pep Guardiola left him out of the Champions League final and Chelsea ultimately emerged triumphant.
Rodri will be looking to bounce back from that disappointment and make an impact at his first international tournament.
What is the full squad?
Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), David de Gea (Manchester United), Robert Sanchez (Brighton)
Defenders: Jose Gaya (Valencia), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Eric Garcia (Manchester City), Diego Llorente (Leeds), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodri (Manchester City), Pedri (Barcelona), Thiago (Liverpool), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Fabian (Napoli), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain)
Forwards: Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Adama Traore (Wolves), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad)
Cesar Azpilicueta is well known for his dedication and hard work, and after a successful campaign for Chelsea he is bringing his approach to the Spanish national team.
The Navarrese defender isn't the most obvious star in the Spain squad and keeps a lower profile than many, but his attitude behind the scenes and his commitment to his work has earned him the respect of former coaches and teammates alike.
For the 31-year-old, the turning point was a serious injury he suffered which changed his perspective. In his first season at Marseille, after a seven million euro transfer from Osasuna, an ACL rupture in his left knee caused him to spend six months on the sidelines.
The experience made Azpilicueta realise that every exercise and every training session was the perfect time to improve and make progress. It was all about positive routines.
He has carried that with him ever since and, even more than a decade later, he still takes every training session seriously. This makes him a dream player for coaches to have in their squad.
"With 11 Azpilicuetas you win the Champions League," Jose Mourinho once said, although one was enough for Chelsea this year.
"I know he will be the best in training and he won't react badly when he doesn't play," said Julen Lopetegui when he was the Spain boss.
It is this attitude which also makes Azpilicueta an ideal captain, leading by example. His consistency is also demonstrated by the fact that he has made more appearances for Chelsea than any non-English player except Petr Cech.
"I learned to value every time I go to train," Azpilicueta told the Diario de Navarra in reference to his knee injury.
"To give everything, even when you can't be bothered, whatever the weather, whoever the opponent.
"You never know what can happen in the future."
Former teammates of Azpilicueta have spoken about how this approach to training manifests itself. Methodical, professional, relentless.
"He's so competitive in everything, he always wants to win and he doesn't settle," said Nacho Monreal, who played with him at Osasuna.
"He's professional in everything he does, and when injured he's even more methodical.
"People love him a lot and respect him."
Another former teammate, Oriol Romeu, backs this up, reflecting on Azpilicueta's attitude in Chelsea training.
"I was surprised by how consistent and hard-working he is. He doesn't take a day off," said Romeu.
"He takes it very seriously, you can see it in his face even when warming up, and he rarely jokes, even in the gym.
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"He might not be the best technically, but I'm sure any coach would love to have a player like him, or several."
Having already won FA Cup and Champions League medals this season, the Azpilicueta method is now at the service of Luis Enrique and the Spanish national team. And you can be sure Azpilucueta will be working as hard as anyone as they prepare for Euro 2020.
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