Madrid — Andres Iniesta will lead Spain in its World Cup
qualifying matches against Italy and Albania after returning from injury.
Spain will be seeking to avenge a loss to Italy at the
European Championship that ended the team's bid for a third consecutive
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui named Iniesta to his squad on
Friday for the upcoming away qualifiers Oct. 6 and 9.
"The return of Andres is very good news for us,"
Lopetegui said. "He has played consistently for the past month. We are
happy he is here, above all given the rivals we have to face."
The most notable inclusion was Napoli forward Jose Callejon
in place of new Barcelona striker Paco Alcacer, who was dropped. He will join
an attack consisting of Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata, Manuel "Nolito"
Agudo and Victor "Vitolo" Machin.
Midfielder Francisco "Isco" Alarcon returned to
the squad in detriment of Real Madrid teammate Marco Asensio. Madrid defender
Nacho Fernandez and Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico were also back after missing
Lopetegui's first list.
The 2-0 loss to Italy in the round-of-16 of Euro 2016 marked
the end of Vicente del Bosque's long and successful stint as Spain's manager.
Lopetegui has since been tasked with rejuvenating a team that won the 2010
World Cup and 2008 and 2012 European Championships.
Also read: Spain's Euro hopes pinned on silent saviour Iniesta
Under Lopetegui, Spain beat Lichtenstein 8-0 its first
qualifier for the 2018 World Cup after beating Belgium in a friendly in his
debut. Iniesta missed those two matches with a knee injury.
Both Italy and Albania won their opening qualifiers in Group
While Italy is clearly Spain's main rival for the group,
Albania is riding high after winning its first match at a major tournament at
"These are two important matches, but they are not
definitive," Lopetegui said. "We know how tough they will be and we
are motivated to meet the challenge. We will not settle for draws."
Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina
(Napoli), Sergio Rico (Sevilla).
Defenders: Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba
(Barcelona), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard
Pique (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich).
Midfielders: Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion (Atletico
Madrid), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Sergio
Busquets (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Lucas Vazquez (Real
Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona),
Francisco "Isco" Alarcon (Real Madrid).
Forwards: Jose Callejon (Napoli), Victor "Vitolo"
Machin (Sevilla), Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Manuel
"Nolito" Agudo (Manchester City).For
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