World Cup 2018: 3 changes to the starting line-up that will make Spain unstoppable
Group B has been the most entertaining group in this World Cup thus far. Spain and Portugal are through to the knockout stages, whilst both have finished the group stage unbeaten. La Roja will play against hosts Russia in the Round of 16, while Portugal are set to face Uruguay with a quarter-final place up for grabs.
Fernando Hierro was seen as the ideal replacement at such short notice when Spain sacked Julen Lopetegui, but it is obvious to see the side miss him. Hierro, with limited managerial experience to his name, is keen to facilitate rather than manage and has not made any significant changes since being appointed.
They are playing the same football, arguably possess the best midfield present at the World Cup but appear disorganised and flawed under Hierro's guidance.
If Spain are serious about winning the World Cup, then Hierro must be brave enough to make big decisions going forward. So with that in mind, here's a look at three changes in the starting line-up that would boost their chances of going all the way next month.
#1 Cesar Azpilicueta IN, Gerard Pique OUT
Spain have not been convincing in defence thus far during the World Cup. They have already conceded five goals in three matches, which is disappointing to say the least. Manchester United's David de Gea, heralded as one of the world's best goalkeepers, only managed one save in the group stages.
Hierro started with Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique as his first-choice centre-back pairing. It's clear that the latter struggles with pace while the former is prone to errors and himself does not exude confidence in a defensive sense.
With that in mind, Hierro should consider dropping Pique for Azpilicueta going forward. Cesar is Chelsea's most consistent performer and has established himself as one of the Premier League's best defenders in recent seasons.
A versatile player who can cover several positions across the backline, he started all but one of the Blues' 38 league matches last season under Antonio Conte and it's an unwelcome surprise that we are yet to see him perform in Russia.