Leeds United duo Diego Llorente and Rodrigo miss out on Qatar World Cup selection
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Leeds United defender Diego Llorente has been left out of the Spain squad that will contest the Qatar World Cup next month alongside Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, as well as strikers Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao) and Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia). Real Betis midfielder Dani Ceballos and Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas were also among the players cut from Julen Lopetegui’s provisional list of 27 players.

Rodrigo and Llorente’s omissions

Manager for the Spain national football team, Luis Enrique, has released 23 players for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, leaving out Leeds United’s Rodrigo and Diego Llorente.

Rodrigo made his debut for La Furia Roja at this summer’s Euro 2020 qualification match against France, while the former Real Madrid Castilla captain is no stranger to representing his country.

Diego Llorente, meanwhile, has been one of Leeds’ most consistent performers this season.

The 26-year-old joined Marcelo Bielsa’s side from Sevilla in January 2018, but injuries have prevented him from featuring since March.

Spain will be managed by Luis Enrique following Vicente del Bosque’s retirement after their group stage exit at last year’s World Cup.

In the latest Fifa world rankings, Spain is ranked fourth. Their bid to win a major international trophy remains alive – they were eliminated in the quarter finals of Euro 2016, Confederations Cup 2017 and then again at the World Cup 2018.

They were drawn into Group B alongside Portugal, Iran and Morocco – where they’ll play all three games in Moscow: Spain vs Portugal on 15th June (21:00), Spain vs Iran on 20th June (21:00) and Spain vs Morocco on 25th June (18:00).

Spain qualified for their first ever World Cup as hosts back in 1982; when they co-hosted it alongside neighbouring country Andorra.

But despite being tournament hosts that year, there were just 13 Spanish goals scored over seven matches; finishing second from bottom behind Northern Ireland.

Spain also lost their only previous competitive fixture against Belgium in the 1980 European Championship semi-finals.

Spain’s record goal scorer Raúl González retired from international football in 2007 with a total of 44 goals to his name.

He was part of Spain’s victorious European Championships squads of 2008 and 2012, which won them consecutive continental titles – meaning they became the third team to do so, after West Germany and Italy.

Spain also won two consecutive Olympic gold medals during those years – 2008 and 2012 – becoming the first nation ever to do so at both Euro or World level.

Struijk’s omission

Struijk has never been capped for his country, but was a regular in the Dutch Eredivisie with Heerenveen.

The 22-year-old, who can play at left back or left wing, is an attack minded player who likes to get forward.

Struijk’s arrival at Leeds last summer was announced alongside that of fellow Dutchman Mateusz Klich.

I want to be a part of this club’s history, he said at the time. I want to make my mark here.

A season which started with promise has not gone according to plan for Struijk, who found himself unable to consistently break into Grayson’s side early on.

He also failed to find the net in all competitions, with his only goal coming against Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup.

Struijk will hope for more minutes under Marcelo Bielsa next term. Spain have also overlooked Rodrigo Moreno in favour of Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata as well as Antoine Griezmann and Pedro Rodriguez.

All three forwards had better goals per game ratios than former Valencia man Rodrigo.

Spain coach Julien Lopetegui admitted there are other players worthy of a place ahead of those who missed out: I would say it is difficult because I know how much they wanted to go to the World Cup, he said.

It was not easy but we have chosen 23 players and they are just one step away. Diego Llorente and Rodrigo were not selected for Spain’s World Cup squad.

With Pascal Struijk left out of the Netherlands squad, Carlos Corberan can’t call upon two defensive options from the Championship side.

Spain were keen to keep hold of their two Spanish second division stars in search of first team football; however, both midfielders were deemed surplus to requirements due to their lack of playing time during the 2017/2018 season .

Having seen no action for the national team since 2016, Diego Llorente’s appearances for Spain Under-21s cannot mask the fact that he played less games than any of his La Roja teammates.

Llorente enjoyed a stellar debut campaign with Leeds after joining from Real Sociedad, becoming a cult hero amongst fans despite often featuring as substitute when Marcelo Bielsa took charge at Elland Road.

The 29-year-old defender made 27 league appearances before being struck down by injury in March.

But Llorente may not feature again this term after sustaining ligament damage to his right ankle – keeping him sidelined until 2019.

Reactions to the omissions

Spain coach Luis Enrique has omitted three players from his squad, including two from Leeds United. Leeds United’s Spanish defender Diego Llorente and winger Rodrigo have not made the cut for Spain’s final 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia.

Meanwhile, Dutch striker Pascal Struijk has also been left out of their provisional squad.

Their absence will come as a blow to Marcelo Bielsa’s side who are currently sitting at the top of the Championship table with six wins from their opening seven games this season.

(Spain national football team) Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will be representing Spain in Russia.

Spurs’ midfielder Isco is also part of the 23, but he had an injury scare last week when he was stretchered off during Spain’s 1-0 friendly win against Colombia.

He returned to training this week but it remains unclear if he’ll be fit enough to make it onto the plane to Russia.

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta is retiring from international duty after more than a decade of service – but there were no surprises that either Liverpool’s Luis Suarez or Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero missed out on selection for what could be his final tournament.

Barca teammate Gerard Pique will lead the defence alongside Real Madrid’s Nacho Fernandez.

Goalkeeper David De Gea could yet go home empty-handed if things go wrong in Russia – and so can Gareth Bale who has failed to live up to expectations for both club and country.

A total of 27 Premier League players have gone into contention for England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of Thursday’s final call, with eight missing from Monday’s initial 25.

There was a sense of inevitability about Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny being dropped because he has only played once since November because of Achilles tendonitis but Chelsea full back Antonio Rudiger misses out because his form hasn’t matched up to his high standards this season.

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