Ok, the first part of this dealt with the quality of the Catalan team could have, and what lineups they could have, now the second half will be the effect on the La Furia Roja.
Well first lets look at their EURO 2016 squad (with one substitution) at time of selection:
|1.||Iker Casillas||GK||Porto||Liga NOS|
|2.||Cesar Azpilicueta||RB, LB||Chelsea||Premier League|
|3.||Gerard Pique||CB||Barcelona||La Liga|
|4.||Marc Bartra||CB||Barcelona||La Liga|
|5.||Sergio Busquets||DM, CM||Barcelona||La Liga|
|6.||Andres Iniesta||CM, AM, LW||Barcelona||La Liga|
|7.||Alvaro Morata||CF||Juventus||Serie A|
|8.||Koke||LW, CM, RW, AM||Atletico Madrid||La Liga|
|9.||Lucas Vazquez||RW, LW||Real Madrid||La Liga|
|10.||Cesc Fabregas||CM, AM||Chelsea||Premier League|
|11.||Pedro Rodriguez||LW, RW||Chelsea||Premier League|
|12.||Dani Carvajal||RB||Real Madrid||La Liga|
|13.||David De Gea||GK||Manchester United||Premier League|
|14||Thiago Alcantara||CM, AM||Bayern Munich||Bundesliga|
|15.||Sergio Ramos||CB, RB||Real Madrid||La Liga|
|16.||Juanfran||RB||Atletico Madrid||La Liga|
|17.||Mikel San Jose||DM, CM, CB||Athletic Bilbao||La Liga|
|18.||Jordi Alba||LB, LW||Barcelona||La Liga|
|19.||Bruno Soriano||CM, DM||Villareal||La Liga|
|20.||Aritz Aduriz||CF||Athletic Bilbao||La Liga|
|21.||David Silva||AM, RW, LW, CM||Manchester City||Premier League|
|22.||Nolito||LW||Celta Vigo||La Liga|
|23.||Sergio Rico||GK||Sevilla||La Liga|
That substitution being Carvajal for Bellerin – Carvajal was in the original squad, but then got injured and was replaced by Bellerin.
From this list 5 have been highlighted – those who are Catalan. Notably 4 of these players (Pique, Alba, Busquets and Fabregas) all started at every game at the euros, A sizeable blow obviously. 5 players to replace them would sensibly be:
Victor Ruiz, Javi Martinez, Saul Niguez, Juan Bernat and Santi Cazorla – now for why.
Victor Ruiz for Pique – a victim of Vincente Del Bosque’s HUGE big club bias, should have been in the squad above Bartra.
Javi Martinez for Marc Bartra – the argument regarding if he is a central midfielder or a centre back is ongoing, but he undoubtedly is excellent at CB. Especially considering the alternative is Nacho Fernandez.
Saul Niguez for Sergio Busquets – Can play the holding role of the player he’s replacing and pretty much everywhere else as well. Bizarre he didn’t make the euros.
Juan Bernat for Jordi Alba – similar in style: a short, fast, very attacking LB. He’s been in numerous Spain squads before – so was the obvious pick.
Santi Cazorla for Cesc Fabregas – Cazorla has normally been consistently in the Spain squads and only missed out due to injury problems, playing a very similar role a club level makes him a perfect replacement.
So after this what does the Spain lineup look like? Taking what they played as the euros then replacing directly you get this:
Pique being replaced by Javi Martinez, Alba by Bernat, Busquets by Bruno and Fabregas by Cazorla.
Why these players?
Martinez as the CB partner as after The Netherlands tore Spain apart at the 2014 world cup this substitution happened – so repeat it here.
Bernat as the other option is Azpilicueta – who wouldn’t provide the attacking impetus and width on the left needed with Nolito’s love of cutting inside.
Bruno for Busquets, this was a tough call. Javi Martinez could have filled this role (Ruiz at CB), San Jose would be a more physical option and Saul was in the best form this season. But I went for Bruno as he is the most similar player to Busquets (and very underrated and overlooked as well). Saul always seems hamstrung by being limited to DM, San Jose probably isn’t a good enough passer and I think Martinez would suit CB better in this teamwork
Finally Cazorla replacing Fabregas – Do I need to explain again? What I said earlier justifying him being in the squad is equally applicable here. He regularly starts for Spain anyway, 77 caps in total.
How would this team do? Probably about as well as it normally does today. Bruno and Bernat as possible weak spots but overall the team is still almost as strong as it was before. Tactically, again little would change. Martinez and Bruno aren’t quite as good in terms of passing as Pique and Busquets so ball retention would be harder – but still classes above most other teams.
The short term impact on this team would be big – especially defensively, but long term it would be fine.