Forward Ansu Fati back in Spain squad for World Cup

Nov 10, 2022, 2:07 PM | Updated: Nov 11, 2022, 6:49 am
Spain's national soccer team coach Luis Enrique, right, speaks after announcing the squad, seen bel...

Spain's national soccer team coach Luis Enrique, right, speaks after announcing the squad, seen below, for the Qatar 2022 World Cup at the Spanish soccer federation headquarters in Las Rozas, just outside of Madrid, Spain, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul White)

(AP Photo/Paul White)

MADRID (AP) — Twenty-year-old forward Ansu Fati returned to Spain’s squad on Friday following a two-year absence, joining coach Luis Enrique’s young team for the World Cup.

Ansu has not played for Spain since making his fourth appearance as a teenager in October 2020 shortly after breaking the record for Spain’s youngest scorer. His spectacular start for Spain and Barcelona was cut short by leg injuries and he has yet to establish himself as a starter with his club.

“I had doubts until the last minute. We know Ansu well because we believed in him before others, but he has been through a difficult process,” Luis Enrique said. “Our mission is to help him get back to his best version. Is he close? Yes? No? We will see. I believe this will be a huge motivation for him.”

Besides Fati, there were no other major surprises when Luis Enrique announced his 26-man squad. The former midfielder, who will coach his first World Cup after playing in three, will rely on a young bunch in Qatar, including Barcelona midfielders Pedri González (19) and Gavi Paéz (18). In June, Gavi broke Ansu’s record by scoring his first goal for Spain at 17 years, 304 days old.

Luis Enrique guided a similar Spain squad to the semifinals of last year’s European Championship. But this team only has one pure striker in Atlético Madrid forward Álvaro Morata. Luis Enrique said he won’t solely depend on Morata with Ferran Torres, Dani Olmo and Ansu likely to play. The coach added that Marco Asensio can act as a “false nine” if needed.

Wingers Yéremy Pino and Nico Williams, both 20, can also provide speed on the flanks, but most likely will be used as second-half substitutes.

Protecting the goal will still be left to Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simón. Aymeric Laporte, Pau Torres and Éric García will likely anchor the defense, with Jordi Alba at left back. Sergio Busquets, with 139 appearances at age 34, will again act as team captain from the midfield.

Busquets is the sole remaining member of Spain’s World Cup-winning team from 2010. Twenty players on the current squad have no World Cup experience.

Spain’s players will travel on Monday to Jordan, where they will play a friendly against that country’s national team on Nov. 17. They will then fly to Doha, where the team will have its base camp during the World Cup.

Spain will play its opening match at the World Cup against Costa Rica on Nov. 23. Spain will also face Germany and Japan in Group E.

“We are going to war in Qatar,” Luis Enrique said.

When asked if he had a problem with holding the event in Qatar, which has been criticized for its attitudes towards the LGBTQ community and the treatment of migrant worker, Luis Enrique replied “none at all.”

“(Qatar) is a country that is involved in situations of conflict,” he said. “You can either focus on the positive to try to create a more just situation, or you can focus on the problems. I focus on soccer. I am not a politician.”



Goalkeepers: Unai Simón (Athletic Bilbao), Robert Sánchez (Brighton), David Raya (Brentford).

Defenders: Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), José Gayà (Valencia), Hugo Guillamón (Valencia), Eric García (Barcelona), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodri Hernández (Manchester City), Pedri González (Barcelona), Koke Resurrección (Atlético Madrid), Gavi Páez (Barcelona), Carlos Soler (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcos Llorente (Atlético Madrid)

Forwards: Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain), Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Álvaro Morata (Atlético Madrid), Yéremy Pino (Villarreal), Ferran Torres (Barcelona), Dani Olmo (Leipzig), Ansu Fati (Barcelona)


AP World Cup coverage: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Brazil's Fred, left, and Rafinha laugh during a training session at the Continassa sporting center,...
Associated Press

Neymar gets treatment at hotel as Brazil plays at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Neymar stayed at the team hotel for physiotherapy treatment on his right ankle Monday as the Brazil squad played Switzerland at the World Cup. The Brazil striker was the only player who did not go to Stadium 974 for the team’s second match in Qatar. Danilo, who also missed the game […]
1 day ago
FILE - New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker (8) dribbles up the court during the second half of an NB...
Associated Press

AP source: Mavs close to deal with 4-time All-Star Walker

The Dallas Mavericks are close to a deal with four-time All-Star guard Kemba Walker, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press on Monday. Walker’s career has been on hold because of knee injuries, but the 32-year-old could give superstar Luka Doncic some much-needed backcourt help for the struggling Mavericks. The person […]
1 day ago
Germany's Leon Gorentzka steps on the right shin of Spain's Gavi during the World Cup group E socce...
Associated Press

Gavi misses Spain practice at World Cup because of injury

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Teenager Gavi did not practice with Spain on Monday, a day after the team’s draw with Germany at the World Cup. Gavi was nursing a minor injury sustained in the 1-1 draw at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday. The 18-year-old midfielder was substituted in the 66th minute against Germany, shortly after […]
1 day ago
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup grou...
Associated Press

Canelo slams Messi over Mexico team World Cup jersey

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — In one corner, Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez. In the other, Lionel Messi. The Argentina star may have gotten into trouble with the wrong person after moving the Mexican national team jersey with his foot while celebrating his team’s much-needed World Cup win against Mexico on Saturday. The Mexican boxer said on Twitter […]
1 day ago
Serbia's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, left, and Cameroon's Pierre Kunde battle for the ball during the ...
Associated Press

Aboubakar saves Cameroon in 3-3 tie with Serbia at World Cup

AL WAKRAH, Qatar (AP) — Substitute Vincent Aboubakar scored one goal and created another as Cameroon rallied from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with Serbia at the World Cup on Monday. He lobbed goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic in the 64th minute and then set up striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting two minutes later. The thrilling draw was […]
1 day ago
Germany's Niclas Fuellkrug celebrates after he scored his side's first goal during the World Cup gr...
Associated Press

‘Super guy’ Füllkrug drives Germany forward at World Cup

AL KHOR, Qatar (AP) — Niclas Füllkrug was scoring goals in Germany’s second division one year ago. Now he’s scoring at the World Cup. “That’s exactly what he’s there for,” teammate Thomas Müller said after Füllkrug’s late goal rescued a 1-1 draw for Germany against Spain in Group E on Sunday. Exactly one year earlier, […]
1 day ago
Forward Ansu Fati back in Spain squad for World Cup