Saturday, 10 December, 2022

Fati returns to Spain squad, Ramos excluded

Fati returns to Spain squad, Ramos excluded

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LAS ROZAS DE MADRID: Luis Enrique called up Barcelona forward Ansu Fati for the 2022 World Cup as he announced his squad on Friday.

The 20-year-old Barcelona forward was not used in September's Nations League clashes and has not been at his best for his club this season.

Fati has four caps for his country and one goal, and has spent the best part of the last two seasons on the sidelines because of repeated knee injuries.

Luis Enrique included him in a list of 26 players for the tournament in Qatar, which did not include veteran Paris Saint-Germain defender Sergio Ramos, despite speculation he could return.

"(Ansu) was one of the doubts until the last minute, we bet on him ahead of others," Luis Enrique told a press conference.

"Ansu's level in a football sense is unquestionable (but) he has gone through a difficult process. I had doubts until the last second.

"The hope of getting him back to his best influenced the decision. Is he close? Yes, no... we will see.

"He has played for his club but he's not a fixture in the team. I think this could be a big stimulus to get him back to where he was, but there are doubts still to clear up. We'll see during the World Cup."

Ramos, 36, who is Spain's record appearance-maker on 180 games for the national team, has found fitness and form with his club this season.

Instead Valencia's versatile defender Hugo Guillamon, who has three appearances for Spain, was selected, along with Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte, who was granted Spanish nationality in 2021.

Luis Enrique, who only brought 24 players to Euro 2020 out of a possible 26, has elected to select his full complement this time around.

As well as veteran players like Barca duo Sergio Busquets, who was in Spain's World Cup winning squad in 2010, and Jordi Alba, the coach opted for younger, relatively untested options.

Meanwhile, Veteran Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was a surprise omission from the Netherlands’ World Cup squad announced by coach Louis van Gaal on Friday.

Cillessen, 33, whom pundits say recently moved from Valencia to NEC Nijmegen to improve his chances of selection, was dropped in favour of Feyenoord's Justin Bijlow, Ajax's Remko Pasveer and the surprise inclusion of Heeenveen's Andries Noppert, the Dutch Royal Football Federation announced in a statement.

Cillessen, who made his debut for the Oranje in 2013 also featured in the team that finished third in the 2014 World Cup under Van Gaal, nicknamed the "Iron Tulip" because of his no-nonsense approach to management.

Spain squad:

Goalkeepers: Unai Simon, Robert Sanchez and David Raya.

Defenders: Jose Gaya, Jordi Alba, Eric Garcia, Aymeric Laporte, Pau Torres, Hugo Guillamon, Cesar Azpilicueta and Dani Carvajal.

Midfielders: Rodri, Koke, Marcos Llorente, Sergio Busquets, Gavi, Pedri Gonzalez and Carlos Soler.

Forwards: Dani Olmo, Pablo Sarabia, Alvaro Morata, Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres, Marco Asensio, Nico Williams and Yeremy Pino.

Netherlands squad:

Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow, Remko Pasveer and Andries Noppert.

Defenders: Nathan Ake, Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt, Jurrien Timber, Stefan de Vrij, Daley Blind, Denzel Dumfries, Tyrell Malacia and Jeremie Frimpong.

Midfielders: Steven Berghuis, Frenkie de Jong, Teun Koopmeiners, Davy Klaassen, Marten de Roon, Xavi Simons and Kenneth Taylor.

Forwards: Steven Bergwijn, Memphis Depay, Cody Gakpo, Vincent Janssen, Luuk de Jong, Wout Weghorst and Noa Lang.