Playing in a FIFA World Cup is the dream of any professional football player, a unique chance to enjoy the biggest competition for nations, to compete against the best on the planet. The LFP will be represented by a contingent of 64 players, with some of the best in the world among them. 62 of them played in the last Liga BBVA and two were in the Liga Adelante.
Vicente Del Bosque’s national side will, naturally, have the most representatives from the LFP, with 14. Most of them belong to the glorious generation that has reached the zenith of international football in three big tournaments in a row, something unheard of in the international game. Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Piqué, Xavi Hernández, Xabi Alonso, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets… Big names in world football, the great ambassadors of the LFP. They will do battle to defend the title they won four years ago in South Africa.
Portugal, our neighbouring country, is the next side with the most players in the LFP with six. And what a six. The Real Madrid CF players Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Fabio Coentrão and Valencia player João Pereira form the backbone of the Portuguese team, while Beto and Ricardo Costa are fixtures in their respective Spanish clubs. Close behind Portugal is Chile, who have five LFP footballers (some of them central to their squad such as Claudio Bravo, Alexis Sánchez and Eduardo Vargas), while Uruguay have four. Among the Uruguayans, Diego Godín, a recent Liga BBVA champion, is the most notable.
The hosts Brazil, headed by Neymar, look like one of the big opponents to beat for a Spain who got their quarter-finals monkey off their back in style six years ago. The Argentines Lionel Messi and Ángel Di María also seem destined to go far in the World Cup. But like in all the big tournaments, there will also be sides that will try to climb the ladder and take their place among the continent’s elite. This is the case of France, with Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezzman and Raphaël Varane, who will vie for their starting places in an exciting French squad. Or Sami Khedira's Germany.
Among the surprise packages to keep an eye on are latest crop of Belgians, led by Thibaut Courtois, Columbia with Carlos Bacca and Carlos Sánchez, and Ivan Rakitić and Luka Modrić’s Croatia. Also present will be some, at first appearance, more modest national teams, like Costa Rica and their brilliant keeper Keylor Navas, Algeria with the electric Yacine Brahimi and Sofiane Feghouli, or Iran, with Masoud Shojaei, one of the two representatives of the Liga Adelante.
But it will not just be the best footballers in the world who travel to Brazil. Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo and his assistants Roberto Alonso Fernández and Juan Yuste are among the cream of the refereeing crop. Everyone will be attempting to raise the already very high bar of Spanish football, the most powerful on the planet.