How they qualified
Like the other finalists, Spain were inconsistent in the group stage with a home defeat to Switzerland and a draw against the Czech Republic. Alvaro Morata got his team across the finish line with a late strike in a 1-0 win away to Portugal.
Spain didn’t make the finals in 2019, finishing runners-up behind England in their group, but they came close in the last edition. The Spanish eliminated Italy in the last four when FC Barcelona’s Gavi debuted and flourished in midfield. Gavi and his team however fell to then-world champions France 2-1 in the final.
Star player (s)
With a lot of new personnel in the squad, 18-year-old Gavi is one of the standout players. He represents the future of Spanish football. In recent seasons, Gavi enjoyed a meteoric rise. In 2021, he debuted at both his club Barcelona and his national team. He featured in all four matches at the World Cup and became the third youngest player, behind Pelé and Manuel Rosas, to score in a match at the tournament.
After the World Cup, Luis de la Fuente succeeded Luis Enrique who departed following ‘death by passing 2.0’ against Morocco. The 61-year-old was an internal appointment. A former full-back, he has been Spain’s U19 and then U21 coach, and had led the U23s at the Olympics. For the Euro 2024 qualifiers in March, De la Fuente left 16 of the players who had featured in the Qatar squad at home. It resulted in a mixed bag: his team defeated Norway but lost to Scotland.
What to expect
Spain are a team in transition. De la Fuente is more pragmatic than Enrique, but will still be expected to maximize the talents of Gavi and other stars. Pedri and Sergio Busquets however have both been left out of the squad. They have just six players from their 2021 Nations League squad when they defeated Italy. A win in Enschede and they will feature in their second Nations League final.
Goalkeepers: Unai Simón (Athletic), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea), David Raya (Brentford)
Defenders: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Jesús Navas (Sevilla), Aymeric Laporte (Man City), Nacho (Real Madrid), Robin Le Normand (Real Sociedad), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Juan Bernat (Paris Saint-Germain)
Midfielders: Rodrigo (Man City), Martín Zubimendi (Real Sociedad), Fabián Ruiz (Paris), Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad), Gavi (Barcelona), Sergio Canales (Betis)
Attackers: Álvaro Morata (Atlético), Joselu (Espanyol), Rodrigo Moreno (Leeds), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Ansu Fati (FC Barcelona), Dani Olmo (Leipzig), Yeremy Pino (Villarreal)