Group B pits Iberian peninsula sharing neighbours, Spain and Portugal, together along with Morocco and Iran. While arguably the greatest player of this generation, Cristiano Ronaldo, will don the Portuguese colours come mid-June, the multicultural Spain possess top to world class talent all round. Who are the five best players from the group pitting two of football’s heavyweights?
5. Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez (Spain)
The spiritual successor to David Silva just because he is so freakishly talented, he’s one that could age like fine wine. More than capable of the audacious, the Real Madrid man has it all from dribbling, passing, ball control, poise, and disrespectful flair. He kicks off a top 5 dominated by the two group heavyweights, pipping Bernardo Silva, Sergio Ramos, and Thiago Alcantara.
4. Sergio Busquets Burgos (Spain)
Espana, Espana…one of the greatest defensive midfielders of all time, Busquets has been the man at the base providing cover and, foremost, controlling tempo in the great Spanish and Barcelona teams of the past decade. His job is that much harder with neither Xavi nor Andres Iniesta part of Barcelona. However, one of the calmest men in football will orchestrate play knowing he is surrounded by technical ability to burn in Iniesta, Marco Asensio, Thiago Alcantara, David Silva, and Isco.
3. David Josué Jiménez Silva (Spain)
Players are supposed to fall off as they get older, right? Merlin has missed the memo. Always flying under the radar, the smoother than silk midfielder has defied his years to quietly build, probably, his best season in a Manchester City jersey. Will it be the same? One thing Spain glaringly misses is a proven goal-scorer at international level. Diego Costa’s bruising, direct style has never fit this Spanish team. Perhaps the reemerged Iago Aspas could be the answer. Stylistically, he certainly is the common sense pick.
2. David de Gea Quintana (Spain)
One of three, alongside Manuel Neuer and Jan Oblak, who may want to lay claim as the best keeper in the world, one of the greatest shot stoppers the game has ever seen already is leading Spain’s charge from the back. Pressed to work overtime for Manchester United, the lanky custodian would expect better cover from a star studded central defense and defensive midfield. Would you bet against a few defining interventions along the way?
1. Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro (Portugal)
Football’s goal-scoring King is back for a swansong. At age 33 and with a squad paling in comparison to the likes of France, Germany, and Brazil, it’s a stretch to expect Ronaldo to take them all the way. What’s undeniable is that the man with five Ballon D’or awards is chasing history at this point. His overall game has waned somewhat, but there is no person you would rather have on your team in an important moment.