Publish date:

18 SPAIN

Author:

Because ...

THE KIDS!

Julen Lopetegui appears to have learned from the mistakes of his coaching predecessor, Vicente del Bosque, who won it all in 2010—and then brought a nearly identical (meaning: four years older) team to Brazil, where Chile and the Netherlands outmuscled La Roja by a combined 7--1. Lopetegui is working with a healthier mix of experience (Andrés Iniesta: Would you guess he's over or under 40 years old?) and ridiculous young talent, most notably the Real Madrid duo of Marco Asensio, 22, and Isco, 26. As attackers go, these two offer much support to their target man—whoever that is; they're likely to rotate—but what makes them really special is their ability to cover so much ground in providing defensive backup. Which helps when your centerbacks, Gerard Piqué and Sergio Ramos, played a combined 4,925 club minutes this season.