Kepa and Nacho in De la Fuente’s first Spain squad

Luis de la Fuente has named his first Spain squad for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers, with Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga recalled to the national team.

The 28-year-old has not played for Spain since their 0-0 friendly draw against Portugal in October 2020.

Arrizabalaga has been a regular for Chelsea since this season and has made 26 appearances in all competitions, being a key member of Graham Potter’s first team.

Three Real Madrid players have also been added to the De la Fuente squad, with Dani Carvajal, Dani Ceballos and Nacho Fernandez all making up the 26-man squad. Marco Asensio, who was with the Spanish squad at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, missed out on a place.

Fernandez, 33, has been in impressive form for Real in recent weeks and his last appearance for the national team came in 2018 when he played in Spain’s 3-2 Nations League defeat by England.

David Garcia, Martin Zubimendi and Joselu were called up for the first time. Former Liverpool striker Iago Aspas, who has scored 11 goals in 27 games for Celta Vigo this season, has also been handed a bid to join the national team.

Despite losing his place in goal at club level, Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez has been included in the De la Fuente squad and Brentford’s David Raya is also called up.

Spain host Norway in Group A on Saturday 25 March before taking on Scotland on Tuesday 28 March.

Spain squad complete

goalkeeper: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Robert Sanchez, David Raya.

defender: Jose Gaya, Alejandro Balde, Aymeric Laporte, Inigo Martinez, Nacho Fernandez, David Garcia, Pedro Porro, Dani Carvajal.

midfield player: Rodri, Martin Zubimendi, Gavi, Fabian Ruiz, Mikel Merino, Dani Ceballos, Pedri.

Forward: Alvaro Morata, Dani Olmo, Nico Williams, Bryan Gil, Mikel Oyarzabal, Iago Aspas, Joselu, Gerard Moreno.

How surprising is De la Fuente’s squad?

The biggest surprise might be the lack of a surprise – De La Fuente tried to keep most people happy.

Recalls for Nacho Fernandez (33) and Iago Aspas (35) will be popular with fans and pundits alike, while new call-ups David Garcia, Martin Zubimendi and Joselu have either been pre-marked or earned on form.

Kepa Arrizabalaga’s return is great after being banned by Luis Enrique. The injury of the incumbent Unai Simon also contributed to this.

The most interesting are the absences – everyone knew about Sergio Ramos but Asensio played many times for De La Fuente in youth and they were close.

Atletico Madrid duo Koke and Marcos Llorente will also feel hurt.

– Dermot Corrigan

How does the Euro 2024 qualification work?

Hosts Germany will have 23 teams supporting them at next year’s finals.

The qualification campaign runs from March to November 2023 and divides 53 teams into 10 groups.

Ten group winners and ten runners-up qualify for the finals, with the remaining three spots to be decided in the 2022-23 Nations League play-offs in March 2024.

Check out the full qualifying schedule, fixtures and kick-off times for Euro 2024 here.

When is Euro 2024?

The month-long Euro 2024 finals kick off on Friday 14 June, with the final scheduled to take place on Sunday 14 July at the 70,000-capacity Olympiastadion in Berlin.

The tournament takes place in 10 host cities: Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart.

(Photo: Getty Images)


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