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Five Spaniards hoping to make an impression

Sports Mole picks out five players that will be hoping to make an impression for Spain in their upcoming internationals.

When Spain boss Vicente del Bosque named his squad for the upcoming games against Ukraine and Netherlands, there were plenty of familiar faces.

The likes of Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta have all played more than 100 times for their country, while Cesc Fabregas and David Silva are both closing on a century of appearances for the European champions.

After Spain's struggles at the 2014 World Cup, Del Bosque vowed to inject some freshness into La Roja and while the latest squad is full of experienced internationals, there are individuals that will be hoping to make an impression.

With that in mind, Sports Mole has picked out five players that will be hoping to cement their long-term position in the squad.

1. Juan Bernat (Bayern Munich, defender)

Caps: 2 Goals: 1

A supremely talented full-back, Juan Bernat came through the youth system at Valencia before German champions Bayern Munich brought the defender to the Bundesliga last summer. There are certainly easier teams to break into than Bayern, but Bernat has already racked up 36 appearances for his club this term. He has, however, only made two appearances for Spain. The first of those came back in October, when he scored in a 4-0 victory over Slovakia. Still just 22, Bernat is quickly emerging into one of the finest left-sided players in world football.

There is a problem, however, and that problem is Jordi Alba, who is currently the undisputed first-choice left-back for Spain. La Roja have not exactly been blessed with excellent full-backs in recent years, but now they have two of genuine excellence. That is without mentioning Valencia's Jose Gaya, who is another that will soon make the senior team. Bernat will more than likely be on the bench for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Ukraine, but he should be given the chance to impress against Netherlands. A strong showing could force Del Bosque into a rethink at left-back, but Alba will have something to say about that.

Hamburg's Marcelo Diaz and Zoltan Stieber vie for the ball against Bayern Munich's Juan Bernat during the German Bundesliga match on February 14, 2015© Getty Images


2. Mario Suarez (Atletico Madrid, midfielder)

Caps: 2 Goals: 0

Showing that this list is not all about youngsters, 28-year-old Mario Suarez did not make his Spain debut until February 2013 and since then, he has only made one further appearance. It came as something of a surprise when the midfielder was called into the latest squad, but there is a general acceptance that Del Bosque feels that his team needs a player of Suarez's ilk. Since joining Atletico Madrid in 2010, Suarez has had plenty of big-game experience and has already won five trophies with the Spanish outfit. He has not always been first-choice at his club, but Atletico boss Diego Simeone refused to entertain January offers for the midfielder due to his importance and indeed experience, especially in Europe.

Suarez was a regular in the Spanish youth teams – making appearances for the Under-16 team all the way through to the Under-21s, who he represented on five occasions. From 2009 to 2013, however, there was no international football for the midfielder. Sergio Busquets remains Del Bosque's favourite holding midfielder, while the likes of Isco and Koke are very much seen as the future in terms of the midfield. However, there is a opening for Suarez and his inclusion in the squad at the expense of a number of others suggests that Del Bosque feels the same way.

Mario Suarez for Atletico Madrid on August 30, 2014© Getty Images


3. Vitolo (Sevilla, winger)

Caps: 0

These days, to break into the Spain squad as a midfielder, you have to be a little bit special. Times are changing, but the likes of Iniesta, Busquets and Silva are all expected to be key players moving forward. There was much speculation that Vitolo would make the latest squad for the first time and his performances for Sevilla this season rightly earned him a call. At 25, Vitolo is hardly a spring chicken and somewhat surprisingly, he never represented Spain at Under-21 level. In truth, the winger is what is known as a late bloomer in the game. Sometimes you have to wait for quality, however, and he is now producing.

This season, the midfielder has scored nine times and registered seven assists. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Vitolo's performances have been a major part of what is developing into a fine season for Sevilla. He brings pace and skill in wide areas, in addition to a genuine goal threat. Vitolo warmed up for a possible international debut with a stunning goal in his team's 2-0 win at Villarreal on Sunday and more performances of that ilk will surely make him part of the squad moving forward. Spain are not exactly blessed with talented out-and-out wingers at the moment, which leaves an open door for Vitolo.

Sevilla's midfielder Vitolo celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match RC Deportivo de la Coruna on March 7, 2015© Getty Images


4. Alvaro Morata (Juventus, striker)

Caps: 2 Goals: 0

Incredibly prolific through the Spain ranks, Alvaro Morata netted 11 goals in 13 appearances for Spain's Under-19 side and 13 in 13 for the Under-21s. He represented Real Madrid between 2008 and 2014, but largely found it difficult to make the breakthrough at the Bernabeu due to the stars ahead of him. The forward netted nine goals in 34 games for Los Blancos in the 2013-14 season, but Juventus swooped to bring him to Turin last summer. The 22-year-old initially struggled to make his mark, but he has been in fine form in recent weeks and boasts a healthy tally of 11 goals in 32 games for the Italian side this season.

Standing at comfortably over six foot, Morata is a very different option for Del Bosque. Not only strong in the air, the forward has a subtle touch and excellent finishing ability, which has been demonstrated throughout his career thus far. He was incredibly prolific for Real Madrid Castilla and it is understood that Real Madrid have a buy-back option for the forward, which is not a surprise. With Diego Costa missing and the likes of Roberto Soldado, Fernando Torres and David Villa out of favour, it is a wonderful chance for Morata to make his mark. Those that know him well believe that he is on the cusp of something great.

Juventus' Spanish forward Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring during the Round of 16, second-leg UEFA Champions League football match against Borussia Dortmund on March 18, 2015© Getty Images


5. Juanmi (Malaga, striker)

Caps: 0

It is important to note that Juanmi would not have been in the latest squad had Costa been available, but the fact that the 21-year-old was first back-up, ahead of a number of experienced forwards, will give him a lot of confidence. It would have been easy for Del Bosque to go for more experience, but Juanmi is a player whose form simply cannot be ignored. He is certainly familiar with the international set-up having represented Spain from Under-17 level and he boasted a very healthy tally of eight goals in 19 games for the Under-19s. A player born and bred in Malaga, he made the breakthrough from the B team in 2010 and has simply not looked back.

This season, the forward has scored seven league goals in 24 games for Malaga, including the winner at Barcelona earlier this year. His pace and movement in the final third has embodied everything that Malaga have been trying to achieve this season and his form has certainly attracted interest from across European football. In truth, he is fairly similar to the type of player that Spain already posses in the final third and he is perhaps battling Valencia's Paco Alcacer for a place in the long-term plans of Del Bosque. It is all about taking the opportunity that presents itself and while he is not expected to be involved against Ukraine, minutes against Netherlands are a serious possibility.

Malaga's forward Juanmi celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Malaga CF vs Athletic Club Bilbao at the Rosaleda stadium in Malaga on November 25, 2013© Getty Images


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