Clarence Seedorf has revealed that Georges Mandjeck will captain Cameroon when they meet Malawi in Tuesday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Blantyre.
The decision, while enforced by the injury absence of stand-in captain Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, will make Mandjeck the third captain of the Dutchman’s three-game tenure in charge of the AFCON hosts.
“I am just confirming what I said in the last conference that for every match we will see a change in captain” Seedorf told the Cameroon federation in quotes received by KweséESPN.
“Georges will be captain, he is also one of the leaders in the group and an experienced player, as well as a good professional.”
The 29-year-old is currently on loan with Israeli heavyweights Maccabi Haifa from Czech giants Sparta Prague, and will now follow in the footsteps of Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui – who captained the side against the Comoros – and Choupo-Moting.
The Indomitable Lions have been thrown into something of a leadership vacuum following Benjamin Moukandjo’s international retirement, which came following Seedorf’s declaration that he wouldn’t select players based in China.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Choupo-Moting scored the only goal in the 62nd minute at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé as the Indomitable Lions defeated Malawi on Seedorf’s home debut on Friday.
Despite qualifying automatically for the 2019 AFCON as hosts, the Indomitable Lions are still taking part in the qualifying campaign in Group B
Cameroon will play Malawi with 19 players instead of 23 after Choupo-Moting, Christian Bassogog and Gaëtang Bong withdrew through injury.
However, Seedorf isn’t concerned by their absences.
“Fortunately enough we have quite some good players in those positions,” he continued. “We would have loved to be with these players, especially Christian.
“Choupo-Moting has a physical problem, Bassogog is not fit yet, and Bong had some problems before coming in as well, but we have 19 players who are fit.”
The Journey, which debuted in FIFA 17, was the first of its kind, the first FIFA story mode that focused on a single character’s career, powered by both user choice and actual match gameplay. Thanks to powerfully-rendered cinematics from the Frostbite engine, players could experience Alex Hunter’s story firsthand. The story continued in FIFA 18 with The Journey: Hunter Returns, and is about to reach its dramatic conclusion in FIFA 19 with The Journey: Champions.
Our Story Begins (The Journey)
We are introduced to Alex as he competes as a young lad for his U-11 squad in London’s Clapham Common. As the scene unfolds, we also meet many of the other members of The Journey cast: Alex’s childhood best friend Gareth Walker, his mother Catherine, father Harold, and grandfather Jim. After a dramatic penalty shootout, the story jumps ahead seven years to an “exit trial” at the National Football Academy in which both Alex and Gareth compete to impress Premier League scouts. This is where Alex meets Danny Williams, another promising player competing in the exit trials who gives Alex a hard time throughout the event.
After Alex completes the exit trial, he is approached by football agent Michael Taylor and eventually hires him to be his first agent. Michael gets Alex a professional contract with the Premier League club of his choice, and we later find out that Gareth also signed for the same club. The two young players attend preseason in the United States together, but Alex only plays for the club for a brief time when he finds out that the club has signed a superstar—which means that he’s going on loan to a Championship club.
As soon as Alex arrives at his new club, he runs into an old “friend”—Danny Williams. Alex impresses on loan alongside Danny as the two develop a close partnership (and friendship), but he gets a sudden recall to his parent club in the middle of the season. We find out that this was due to Gareth’s leaving of the club—for their biggest rival—and Alex is meant to fill his old friend’s boots.
Solid performances upon his return to the club earn Alex a spot in the starting XI in the FA Cup final against their biggest rivals—and his old pal Gareth. Despite a fairly tense conversation before the match in which Gareth goes a bit too far, the two briefly reconcile on the pitch afterwards—regardless of who wins the match.
The Journey wraps up with Alex and Danny playing FIFA when Alex finds out that he’s been placed on a shortlist of players likely to get a call-up to the England national team in the near future.
Alex's First Big Move (The Journey: Hunter Returns)
Now that he has re-established himself with his Premier League club, Alex heads to preseason in the United States to take on the likes of Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy. At the end of his time in Los Angeles, Alex runs into his estranged father Harold, who lives in the United States and wants to reconnect.
After the club returns to England, Michael Taylor contacts Alex to tell him that Real Madrid want to buy him. Fresh off facing Real in the USA and meeting Cristiano Ronaldo, Alex pushes for this dream move by handing in a transfer request. The entire deal turns out to be fake and falls through, ruining Alex’s reputation with the club and its fans.
With few options left and the window closing soon, Alex chooses to transfer to the LA Galaxy after Harold calls him and helps initiate a move. Alex regains his form and confidence in MLS, helping the Galaxy reach the Playoffs (and maybe more). He also meets Kim Hunter, his half-sister that Harold had never told him about. Although he originally wanted nothing to do with Kim, Alex puts the grudge against his father aside and supports his half-sister as she earns her first call-up to the US Women’s National Team.
Alex’s impressive run in MLS gets the football world buzzing, and he is courted by some of the biggest clubs in Europe in the offseason. After he makes his decision and has a promising start with his new team, Alex gets a serious knee injury that keeps him out of action for months. The club ends up sending Alex to Los Angeles for rehabilitation, which gives him another chance to bond (and eventually train with) Kim.
Once he is fully cleared by the doctors, Alex goes back to Europe to re-join his club for the remainder of the season. He impresses with some solid performances to close out the season, followed by a celebratory return to Los Angeles with his grandfather Jim. After an emotional first meeting between Jim and Kim, Alex gets a call from an agent that represents some of his teammates. She requests a meeting, telling him that if he were her client he would “be a Real Madrid player right now.”
Learn more about the upcoming finale to the story, The Journey: Champions in FIFA 19. For the first time in the series, you can play the complete stories of Alex, Danny, and Kim as they strive to take their careers to a new level.
FIFA 19 is available for pre-order for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Stay in the conversation on all things FIFA by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and Instagram, and participating in the official FIFA Forums. Sign-up to receive emails about EA SPORTS FIFA and EA products, news, events, and promotions.
The transfer window in all of Europe’s big five leagues is now closed, but that doesn’t stop Transfer Talk from rummaging through the remains of the summer window to scrounge up the earliest bit of gossip about who will be moving where come January.
United’s Herrera ready to leave in winter
Ander Herrera could be heading out of Manchester United in January because he is “disappointed at the delay in offering him a new deal,” according to Metro.
It reports that Spain midfielder Herrera, whose deal expires at the end of the season, will listen to offers in the winter despite wanting to stay.
But United “have made little progress in talks since triggering a 12-month extension last November” and he has yet to be offered a new contract.
Metro reports that “Herrera’s camp are understood to be frustrated by United’s refusal to offer fresh terms so far and believe their client will not be short of offers.”
However, it adds that Jose Mourinho “is keen on keeping Herrera, and values his versatility.”
Drinkwater set for Leicester loan return?
Chelsea midfielder Danny Drinkwater could soon be back in familiar surroundings, the Sun reports.
It reports that Drinkwater could return to his old club Leicester on loan in January after failing to establish himself at Stamford Bridge.
Drinkwater, 28, cost Chelsea £35 million when he joined from the Foxes last summer, but now they are set to let him leave on a temporary basis.
Leicester had hoped to sign Drinkwater in the summer, when West Ham were also interested, but may face competition from Southampton in the next window.
City to wait on Kompany contract talks
Manchester City will put negotiations over a new deal for Vincent Kompany on hold until the end of the season, according to the Sun.
Kompany, 32, is out of contract with the Premier League champions next summer, but “talks are on the back burner” for now.
However, City “are not concerned about Kompany wanting to play for another English club,” believing he will sign an extension and “take a cut on his £200,000-a-week wages.”
The Sun quotes a club source as saying there are “no issues” with the Belgium international and “he isn’t going anywhere.”
Meanwhile, the Manchester Evening News says City’s lack of success in bringing in cover for Fernandinho will have an effect this season.
Pep Guardiola had hoped to sign Jorginho from Napoli only for him to join Chelsea, while attempts to bring Douglas Luiz into the squad were foiled by work permit problems.
And that means Guardiola will rest midfielder Fernandinho, who missed only four Premier League games last season, more often this time.
— Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce “is ready to launch a desperate SOS to John Terry” to persuade the former Chelsea defender to come back to Villa Park, according to the Sun.
Terry, 37, spent last season at Villa, helping them reach the playoff final, and the Sun reports that Bruce “wants new club owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens to sanction a dramatic return.”
— Meanwhile, Villa failed to sign Liverpool winger Harry Wilson on loan because of the money demanded by the Merseysiders, the Birmingham Mail says.
Wales international Wilson, 21, had been a target for Bruce “but the Reds were asking for a loan fee of £1 million and Villa could not stump up the funds.”
Part of the fun of the transfer window is contemplating which club will be your team on the next edition of FIFA. FIFA 19 looks like it will have West Ham’s name written all over it, with the club’s transfer spree bringing an array of talented players to London. Manuel Pellegrini will be happy that he has managed to be so busy in the transfer market, and he probably won’t mind at all when you swoop in at the start of your FIFA 19 career and take over the team he has assembled. His new signings should not only be effective in the real world, but also boast qualities that will translate in exciting fashion to FIFA.
West Ham bringing home the bacon
The poster boy for the transfer spree is Felipe Anderson for a club record fee of £36 million from Lazio. The BBC have reported how West Ham bosses have called the Brazilian attacking midfielder one of the most exciting players in Europe. Anderson was actually something of a bit-part player for Lazio last season, with injury and the form of Luis Alberto restricting him to 21 Serie A appearances. Maybe those at the top at West Ham gained their glowing opinion of Anderson from his FIFA stats; a potential rating of 84 on FIFA 18 places him alongside Manuel Lanzini as one of their star players, while a sprint speed and acceleration of 91 and 94 respectively make Anderson the dream FIFA player. Being blessed with pace and the technical ability to back it up is a hallowed combination.
Jack Wilshere brings strong passing ability, with a short passing and ball control rating of 84. Unsurprisingly, Wilshere carries the injury-prone trait on FIFA because of his struggles with fitness in real life, but this is a player touted to be one of the world’s leading central midfielders when he emerged onto the scene. If he can avoid injury on FIFA then he will be a guaranteed starter for West Ham, with the FIFA gamers having the added bonus of not having to deal with his occasionally fiery persona.
Andriy Yarmolenko seems to have been around for ages, but at an age of 27 the Ukrainian forward is ready to make a mark on a big league in a way that he couldn’t at Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund are blessed with an embarrassment of speedy attacking riches, so FIFA and football managers alike may have seen cause to overlook Yarmolenko. At West Ham, he is the kind of player who can take them to the next level. His dribbling of 87 and strength of 81 will make him difficult to shrug off the ball, with FIFA gamers having the added bonus of not having to deal with his occasionally volatile personality. With characters like Wilshere and Yarmolenko, Pellegrini is going to have an interesting dressing room.
A FIFA challenge
Ryan Fredericks (sprint speed 94), Fabian Balbuena (potential rating 80), Lukasz Fabianski (current rating 80) and Issa Diop (potential rating 86) round off the incoming arrivals to West Ham. In particular, Diop could turn out to be a stunning signing. Sky Sports reported how West Ham fought off interest from European heavyweights Monaco and Sevilla to capture the signature of Toulouse’s 20-year-old captain, with the centre-back’s FIFA 18 strength rating of 86 marking his potential to become a formidable defender. West Ham are investing significantly in hope of making the jump from mid-table to European regulars. As of 17th July, the Hammers are 250/1 with Betway to win the Premier League, placing them in the company of Everton and Leicester. However, if the signings are embedded quickly into life in London then West Ham will be fancying their chances to spring a surprise.
Plus, their outsider status makes them an appealing FIFA challenge. Especially if Pellegrini struggles to integrate his new signings quickly, when FIFA 19 hits the stores there will be a multitude of gamers eager to see if they can do better. As mentioned above, some of these new signings are big characters who are not averse to trouble in real life. Throw in the presence of the combustible Marko Arnautovic and it is clear that Pellegrini will have his work cut out in keeping the dressing room positive. There is then the added issue of finding a system that accommodates all of his attacking talents. FIFA players can get stuck into that second issue without having to worry about potential problems off the pitch to the same extent. If players can’t find a system that works then the likes of Felipe Anderson and Ryan Fredericks are really quite fast, so that helps.
The LA Galaxy’s health issues have returned with both Romain Alessandrini and Giovani Dos Santos in doubt for Tuesday’s match against the Colorado Rapids.
A full-strength Galaxy team began play on Saturday but wound up with a disappointing 2-2 home draw against Minnesota United and also saw two key players depart early.
Winger Alessandrini scored his eighth goal of the season only seven minutes into the contest, but he exited 17 minutes later after injuring his right leg. Then Dos Santos departed at the half for Los Angeles with his own left leg ailment.
Alessandrini and Dos Santos are both listed as questionable for the Tuesday contest in Carson, California.
Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid admits each loss complicates a three-game, eight-day stretch for a club that already relies on several players over the age of 30. Those include star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is two goals away from 500 for club and country, outside back Ashley Cole and winger Chris Pontius.
“You sort of have lineups written in your mind, but then everything sort of goes out the window as you are dealing with the injuries,” Schmid said after Saturday’s loss. “We have to see how everybody came through the game tonight, and then we will make our decisions.”
Meanwhile, the Rapids are in a rare positive stretch this season after defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 on Saturday for a second-consecutive victory. Colorado earned a 2-1 home win over the Galaxy two weekends ago.
After Kellyn Acosta scored in his first two games with the Rapids, the secondary-transfer-window addition assisted on both goals Saturday against San Jose.
Colorado is 4-3-3 in its past 10 games following a miserable eight-game losing skid earlier this season. The Rapids still begin the week 12 points beneath the playoff line, though coach Anthony Hudson says his team’s mentality is as good as it’s ever been.
“Slowly, the players are believing more and more in ourselves and what we’re doing,” Hudson said. “At no point in this period did the players stop working. And what’s what they’re doing. They just continue to fight and work hard, and they’re really committed to move the team in the right direction.”
United States international Geoff Cameron looks to be on his way out of Stoke City a source with knowledge of the situation has confirmed to ESPN FC, though his eventual destination is unknown.
The Telegraph was first to report that Stoke manager Gary Rowett had informed Cameron and three other players that they were free to leave the club. The report went on to name Werder Bremen and Rayo Vallecano as possible landing spots, but the source indicated that Cameron wouldn’t end up at either club.
Cameron, 33, has been likely to move ever since Stoke’s relegation from the Premier League last season, and a report from NBCSports.com indicated Cameron has a buyout clause of $9.5 million.
At one point he was rumored to be heading to Southampton, where he would be reunited with former Stoke manager Mark Hughes, but the Premier League transfer window closed with Cameron remaining with the Potters.
He has yet to make the game day roster in either of Stoke’s first two games, though Cameron missed the first match in order to attend to his ailing father, who had suffered a stroke.
The transfer window for clubs in the English Football League doesn’t close until Aug. 31, so it’s possible that he could move to another team in the English Championship or elsewhere in Europe.
Cameron joined the Potters just prior to the 2012-13 campaign, and has gone on to make 186 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals. He began his professional career with Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo, making 124 league and playoff appearances, scoring 11 goals.
At international level Cameron made 55 appearances for the U.S., scoring four goals as well as playing in the 2014 World Cup. He was heavily involved in the 2018 cycle in which the U.S. failed to qualify, but fell out of favor with then manager Bruce Arena towards the latter stages of the campaign.
EA SPORTS™ FIFA 19 officially launches worldwide September 28 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch™, and PC.
Powered by Frostbite™*, FIFA 19 gives you the chance to experience the world’s most prestigious club competition with the addition of the legendary UEFA Champions League. Whether you want to achieve glory in the pinnacle of club football in the brand-new UEFA Champions League tournament mode, or experience the dramatic conclusion to Alex Hunter's story in The Journey: Champions*, the UEFA Champions League is woven into every mode in FIFA 19. Find out more about all of the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and Super Cup game modes and features.
Champions Rise in FIFA 19.
Pre-order** the Champions Edition to get three days early access, up to 20 Jumbo Premium Gold FUT Packs, a UEFA Champions League player pick, Cristiano Ronaldo & Neymar Jr FUT Loan Items for 7 matches, and more.
Pre-order the Ultimate Edition to get three days early access, up to 40 Jumbo Premium Gold FUT Packs, a UEFA Champions League player pick, Cristiano Ronaldo & Neymar Jr FUT Loan Items for 7 matches, and more. Find out more about our pre-order offers.
Ronaldo returns to the cover, joined by neymar JR
The best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, is back as the FIFA 19 cover star, now joined by Brazil star Neymar Jr for the Champions and Ultimate Edition covers.
Ronaldo continues to rack up the honours for both himself and his club this season, picking up yet another Ballon d'Or trophy alongside a historic third consecutive Champions League title. Already the competition's all-time record scorer, the Portuguese superstar became the first player to win five UEFA Champions League trophies after Real Madrid's 3-1 victory over Liverpool in Kyiv.
Neymar had an electrifying first season at Paris Saint-Germain fresh off his blockbuster transfer last summer. Not only did the Brazilian winger dazzle defenses throughout the league on the way to being named Ligue 1 Player of the Year, he also helped PSG in their unprecedented domestic quadruple.
Play FIFA 19 from September 20 with Play First Trials (available on EA Access on Xbox One and Origin Access Basic on PC) and save 10% if you decide to buy the full game. PC players can upgrade to Origin Access Premier to get unlimited access to the full game ahead of launch.
*FROSTBITE GAME ENGINE TECHNOLOGY AND THE JOURNEY: CHAMPIONS IS AVAILABLE ON XBOX ONE, PLAYSTATION 4 AND PC PLATFORM VERSIONS ONLY. NOT ALL FEATURES AVAILABLE ON ALL PLATFORMS.
** Conditions and restrictions apply. See offer disclaimers for full details.
FIFA 18 is Available Now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Conditions and restrictions apply. See https://www.easports.com/fifa/fifa-18-game-and-offer-disclaimers for details.
Stay in the conversation on all things FIFA by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter and Instagram.
Sign-up to receive emails about EA SPORTS FIFA and EA products, news, events and promotions.
Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne have all been included in Belgium’s preliminary World Cup squad but there is no place for Roma’s Radja Nainggolan.
Chelsea star Hazard, Manchester United forward Lukaku and De Bruyne of Manchester City were all named in the 28-man selection made public by national team coach Roberto Martinez on Monday.
Nainggolan, however, was a notable absentee. The midfielder — who was only named on the reserve list for the 2014 World Cup but played in all five of the national team’s Euro 2016 matches, scoring in the quarterfinal loss to Wales — had declared last summer he was retiring from international football after being initially snubbed by Martinez.
“Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end,” Nainggolan wrote on Instagram after the squad was announced. I’ve always done everything I could to represent my country. Being yourself can be bothering. From this day on I will be the first fan.”
????️Our #WorldCup squad list ! Final 23 ➡️ 04/06#REDTOGETHER ???????? pic.twitter.com/nxOLAv28MS
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) May 21, 2018
The former Swansea City and Everton boss did, however, call up the 30-year-old for November’s friendlies with Mexico and Japan, only for Nainggolan to be forced to withdraw through injury.
After convincing performances for his club in both Serie A and the Champions League, Nainggolan featured for just over half an hour in March’s friendly win over Saudi Arabia, winning his 30th cap.
“It’s a tactical reason,” Martinez said at a news conference announcing the squad. “Over the last two years, we have worked in a very attacking way, a very specific system and manner, and other players had those roles. Radja has a very important role in his club, and I don’t feel we can give him that in the national team. He’s not a player to be used in a small role.”
Martinez said he had taken the unusual step of visiting Rome on Sunday to see Nainggolan in person before deciding to leave him out.
“I respect Radja,” Martinez said. “He’s not a young player. He’s got great experience. I value his opinion.
“I didn’t tell him he wasn’t in the squad. I travelled to share some thoughts and the decision was made after the meeting. I was able to look into his eyes. It was a difficult conversation to have. I appreciate his honesty. I was glad to be able to see him before I made a decision.”
Liverpool’s Divock Origi, who spent last season on loan at Wolfsburg, and Everton forward Kevin Mirallas, who joined former club Olympiacos on a temporary basis in January, also missed out, but there was room for Christian Benteke.
The former Liverpool striker struggled for game time and goals at Crystal Palace last term, but with Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi both coming back from late-season injuries, Martinez said he needed a back-up option ahead of starting their Group G campaign against Panama on June 18 before also facing Tunisia and England.
“Christian is a player who can bring a different No. 9 style,” Maritnez said of Benteke, who won the last of his 33 caps in September 2017. “Given the concerns we have over the other No. 9s, it was a necessity for us to have another one.
“He’s had a difficult season, but I think he’s used to working in that environment, and is experienced enough to perform for the national team. Look at the goals he scored in qualifying. He was in impressive form. We didn’t call him up in March because I didn’t need to see him, but it didn’t affect what we thought of him.”
Martinez said another of his injured players, Thomas Vermaelen, “deserves as much time as we can give him” to recover from a hamstring injury that ruled him out of Barcelona’s last league game of the season.
Another defender, Lazio’s Jordan Lukaku, will also be assessed at the Red Devils’ training camp, which starts on Tuesday ahead of their June 4 warm-up game against Portugal.
Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was also named to the preliminary squad despite losing his place as the No. 1 to Loris Karius in January. Mignolet, who started the friendly against Saudi Arabia, has not featured for Liverpool since January.
Martinez also had no problem including two Chinese Super League midfielders — Yannick Carrasco and Axel Witzel — as well as defender Laurent Ciman, who is with MLS side LAFC.
Defender Vincent Kompany, who will make his second World Cup appearance, told ESPN FC that he appreciates the way Martinez approaches his position.
“I think Roberto thinks a lot about the game,” Kompany said. “He has the knowledge about the game that you can expect from a top, top manager and he gives a lot of responsibility to his players so you don’t get treated like schoolchildren. You have a role to play, and with an experienced team like ours now, I think it’s a good combination.”
Belgium’s 28-player squad
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Matz Sels (Newcastle United)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Laurent Ciman (LAFC), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Christian Kabasele (Watford), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has left Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata, Cesc Fabregas and Marcos Alonso out of his 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia but included Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal.
Morata, who scored five goals in qualifying, had been a regular in Lopetegui’s squads until March, when he was dropped after losing his starting place at Chelsea.
Alonso was widely tipped to make the squad after impressing this season in the Premier League. He had seven goals in 33 league starts, but Lopetegui elected to take Monreal, who plays the same position.
“Monreal has come with us many times,” Lopetegui said at a news conference on Monday. “We know him well and we are convinced he will help us.”
???? OFICIAL | 46 millones de ilusiones en sus botas, en sus manos… ¡¡ESTOS SON #NUESTROS23!!
???? ¡RT PARA APOYARNOS! pic.twitter.com/XBx0e4uOcB
— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) May 21, 2018
There are six players from Real Madrid in the World Cup squad, including Spain captain Sergio Ramos and midfielder Isco, a key player for Lopetegui but one who is unlikely to start in Madrid’s Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday.
“I want to remember those players that were crucial in qualifying and helped us, including Alvaro Morata, Marc Bartra [and] Vitolo, but have not made the squad,” Lopetegui said. “I spoke to those that I thought that I had to speak to.
“It’s not easy to give 23 players and the doubt always exists. In the case of Morata, he’s had a complex season but he could have come. He hasn’t because another player has convinced us more.”
Morata, in his first season at Chelsea following a move from Madrid, has struggled with a back injury and played just four minutes in his team’s 1-0 win over Manchester United in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Following his omission, Morata sent a message of support to the squad, which read: “The best of luck for the World Cup!! As of right now I will be supporting and cheering until the end as I’ve always done!!”
Lopetegui has included ex-Chelsea forward Diego Costa, who made 20 appearances in all competitions after returning to play for Atletico Madrid in January.
With Costa, Atletico finished runners-up to Barcelona in La Liga and also won the Europa League.
La Liga’s top scoring Spanish players, Iago Aspas and Rodrigo Moreno, are also in. Aspas has scored 20 goals for Celta Vigo and Rodrigo’s 16 goals helped Valencia finish in fourth place and qualify for the Champions League.
Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea, who kept 18 clean sheets in the league to win his first Premier League Golden Glove, joins Monreal, Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and Manchester City’s David Silva as the Premier League players in the squad.
Veteran midfielder Andres Iniesta, who played his final game for Barcelona on Sunday and will retire from international football after the World Cup, has made the squad.
Barca teammates Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba have also been included.
Spain, who went unbeaten in qualifying, play a warm-up game against Switzerland at the Estadio de la Ceramica in Villarreal on June 3. They will travel to Russia four days later and take on Tunisia in Krasnodar in their final preparation game on June 9.
“A World Cup is the most beautiful and challenging competition there is,” Lopetegui said. “We only have three games guaranteed. The rest we have to earn it there.”
Spain begin their World Cup campaign against Portugal on June 15 in Sochi and also take on Iran and Morocco in Group B.
Spain’s 23-player squad:
Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao), David De Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli)
Peru captain Paolo Guerrero will miss the World Cup after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency to increase the length of his drugs ban.
Guerrero was initially banned for 12 months after testing positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, following Peru’s World Cup qualifier with Argentina in October last year.
Accepting Guerrero’s argument that the substance was accidentally consumed in contaminated tea, FIFA reduced the ban to six months, a period which would have enabled Guerrero to play in Russia, and he was duly named in Peru’s provisional squad on Sunday.
But CAS have increased Guerrero’s suspension from six to 14 months on the basis that he did bear “some fault or negligence” for the positive test, and must therefore face a ban of between one and two years under FIFA’s own anti-doping rules.
A CAS statement read: “The CAS panel confirmed the existence of an ADRV [anti-doping rule violation] committed by Mr Guerrero, but also accepted that he did not attempt to enhance his performance by ingesting the prohibited substance.
“However, the panel considered that the player did bear some fault or negligence, even if it was not significant, and that he could have taken some measures to prevent him from committing the ADRV.
“Considering that, in case of no significant fault or negligence, the sanction should, in accordance with the applicable FIFA rules, be in the range of one to two years of suspension, the CAS panel considered that the appropriate sanction would be 14 months in light of the Mr Guerrero’s degree of fault.”
Guerrero had also filed a case to CAS in an effort to be absolved of the original sanction, which ended this month. His case and that of WADA were consolidated into a single case in Lausanne.
Guerrero’s absence will be a big blow for Peru, who are preparing for their first World Cup finals since 1982.
Capped 86 times for his country, the experienced striker plays for the Brazilian club Flamengo.
A Collection Of FIFA Ultimate Team Tips, FIFA Guide FAQ