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Spain goalkeepers at World Cup: Why Chelsea’s Kepa, Man United’s De Gea won’t be starting for national team in Qatar

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After two straight disappointing World Cup campaigns, Spain will be hoping to perform better at the 2022 tournament in Qatar. 

Manager Luis Enrique has no shortage of talent to pick from and turned heads when his preliminary squad roster was leaked. 

In unveiling his final 26-man squad on November 11, it was confirmed that Manchester United’s David de Gea and Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga had been excluded.

So which goalkeepers are Spain taking to the 2022 World Cup, who will start and why is De Gea out of favour? The Sporting News takes a look.

MORE: Spain’s World Cup fixtures for Qatar 2022

Spain goalkeepers at World Cup 2022

Enrique had seemingly opted to name five goalkeepers in his preliminary squad for Qatar with two cut for the final squad.

Among that crop, three play for clubs in the Premier League and the other two lineup in La Liga. 

All five are still relatively inexperienced at national team level with three of the goalkeepers boasting just two caps between them.

Upon the announcement of the final 26-man squad it was confirmed Unai Simon, David Raya and Robert Sanchez would be the three heading to Qatar.

Player Club Age Caps
Unai Simon Athletic Bilbao (SPA) 25 27
Kepa Arrizabalaga Chelsea (ENG) 28 11
David Raya Brentford (ENG) 27 1
Robert Sanchez  Brighton (ENG) 24 1
David Soria Getafe (SPA) 29 0

Why is De Gea not playing for Spain?

Manchester United star De Gea is an obvious name missing from Spain’s list of goalkeepers for the 2022 World Cup. 

While the 31-year-old continues to play regularly for the Red Devils, he hasn’t featured for Spain since a 1-0 loss to Ukraine on October 13, 2020. 

De Gea started for Spain at the 2018 World Cup in Russia but struggled, conceding six goals from seven shots on target as his side were knocked out in the round of 16. 

Enrique named De Gea in his Euro 2020 squad last year but has since frozen him out of the side, recently suggesting he doesn’t boast the attributes he wants in a goalkeeper. 

“A goalkeeper should start the play and generate the first superiority, they must dominate the aerial play,” Enrique said in June 2022. 

“I need a goalkeeper that transmits peace and calmness to me – and that doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes, errors are part of football.” 

De Gea currently has 45 caps for Spain making him more experienced than the five goalkeepers Enrique had initially shortlisted. 

David De Gea

Why Kepa won’t start for Spain at World Cup 2022

So with De Gea missing, Kepa was the next most recognisable goalkeeper in Spain’s squad preliminary squad. 

The Chelsea shot-stopper has 11 national team caps to date and has featured for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League this season.

However, Kepa also won’t be Spain’s starting goalkeeper at the 2022 World Cup having failed to make the cut.

That honour is set to go to Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simon, who has started 20 of Spain’s last 21 matches. 

The 25-year-old was handed his senior international debut by Enrique in November 2020 and has barely missed a game since. 

Simon has been playing club football with Atheltic Bilbao since 2016 and ultimately replaced Kepa as the club’s starting goalkeeper when he joined Chelsea in 2018. 

MORE: Final 26 players on Spanish national football team roster for Qatar

Enrique is a big fan of Simon and fiercely defended him in June this year when some fans questioned his tendency to come out of goal to make clearances. 

“He doesn’t make me nervous. Neither do Robert Sanchez and David Raya,” Enrique said when asked about Simon.

“The goalkeeper has to generate the first superiority. And in that, he is an expert. The thing is, I tell him that he should do it. I don’t know any other way to turn up and play.

“I understand that to those that don’t like it, it makes them nervous, but I like that he plays like that.”


Credit: sportingnews.com

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