After this weekend, European club football will take a two-week break for the second time this season, as national teams all around the world complete a couple more rounds of World Cup 2018 qualifying. And thus, boredom ensues once again thanks to the lack of proper football in our lives.
Thanks to Chelsea’s poor results over the past year, the number of full internationals in the squad has been steadily decreasing. While some, like Gary Cahill for England or Asmir Begovic for Bosnia, or our Belgians (all three now, including Batshuayi) have remained undroppable, the same can’t be said for Spain, who are going through a transitional period themselves as well.
The Spanish national team will be facing Italy and Albania during the upcoming break, but new manager Julen Lopetegui has decided that they will do so without the majority of Chelsea’s Spaniards, in whom previous manager Vicente Del Bosque had repeatedly placed his trust. Lopetegui has left out not only Cesc Fàbregas and Pedro, but César Azpilicueta as well, while Marcos Alonso is nowhere near getting his first ever cap. Forward Diego Costa will be the only Chelsea player in the group.
Lopetegui explained that although the he likes Fàbregas, they expect him to play more often for Chelsea in order to get a recall to the national team.
"Fàbregas has played a little bit more at Chelsea. We like Cesc, but we have to choose. There are a lot of players and we can't call them all. I hope he can play more minutes."
-Julen Lopetegui; Source: Goal.com
Meanwhile, Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte sees the absence of Azpi, Cesc and Pedro as an opportunity for them to stay and work not only for the betterment of Chelsea, but also towards returning to the Spain squad in the future.
"Azpi, Cesc and Pedro are three important players for Chelsea. They are working very well with great commitment and a good attitude, which is important. I think this can be an opportunity for them to work hard and try to get back into the Spain squad. We are talking about three great players."
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
The full 23-man Spain squad called up by Lopetegui is as follows:
Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli), Sergio Rico (Sevilla);
Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Nacho (Real Madrid), Javi Martínez (Bayern Munich);
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Thiago Alcántara (Bayern Munich), Saúl Ñíguez (Atlético Madrid), Koke (Atlético Madrid), Isco (Real Madrid), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona);
Forwards: Álvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid), Nolito (Manchester City), José Callejón (Napoli), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Vitolo (Sevilla).
Elsewhere, here’s Roberto Martinez’s latest Belgium squad, featuring all three of Courtois, Hazard, and Batshuayi. Notably, the former Everton man also called up the second Hazard brother, Thorgan, who’s recently been featuring quite a lot in the Chelsea rumor mill.
N’Golo Kante (France) and Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso) will be involved as well. England’s new interim boss Gareth Southgate will name his first squad on Sunday.