World Cup 2018: Hierro ponders changes as Spain prepare for Morocco
Spain take on Morocco this evening as Group B at the 2018 FIFA World Cup draws to a close. La Furia Roja will progress from the group with a point or if Portugal beat Iran regardless of their result against Morocco.
Therefore, it would be an enormous shock if Spain fail to make the last sixteen this evening and Fernando Hierro may consider making a few small alterations as he begins to stamp his authority on this side.
Will Lucas Vazquez start again?
The biggest call Fernando Hierro has made so far in his short and unexpected reign as Spain boss was to start Lucas Vazquez against Iran. The Real Madrid winger adds an injection of pace into the side but he is also someone who divides opinion perhaps more than any other player in Spain's 2018 World Cup squad.
It is fair to say he didn't have his best game against Iran but it was a curious call to start him given the Iranians were always going to defend very deep leaving Vazquez with little space in behind to run into.
Morocco may be marginally bolder tonight given they are out of the tournament and have nothing to lose but Hierro could opt for either Iago Aspas or Marco Asensio - two players who offer more cutting edge in the final third and a greater goal threat.
How will the central midfield shape up?
Spain's World Cup preparations and qualifying campaign saw them play with a fairly consistent midfield three. Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets started while Koke and Thiago Alcântara jostled for the other role in central midfield.
However against Iran, Hierro made the surprise call to move David Silva back into the middle of the park, alongside the Barcelona duo, partly to accommodate Vazquez in the side.
Tonight Spain may revert back to 'Plan A' with a more conventional midfield three with a bit more steel than Silva provides. In contrast to the previous night, this isn't a game Spain desperately need to chase given a draw will see them progress and having looked vulnerable defensively at times in their opening two games, Hierro will be looking for greater protection.
One option may be to rest Andres Iniesta with the legendary midfielder likely to struggle with the volume of games if Spain go deep in Russia. That could potentially see Koke and Thiago both start although Saúl is an alternative option if Hierro opts for greater mobility.
Which Spanish players have been booked?
So far only Sergio Busquets has been booked for Spain and their good discipline is why they are currently on top of Group B - ahead of Iberian rivals Portugal. Busquets is arguably the one man that Spain don't have any cover for in this squad with no other natural holding midfielders included.
Therefore it would be a huge blow for him to pick up a second booking and miss the next match through suspension. But with qualification not year secure, it's highly likely that the Barcelona man will still start tonight.
Any Other Changes likely?
Spain really do have an embarrassment of riches but it's hard to see any other major alterations. Dani Carvajal is fit again so they have their first choice back four while Hierro looks set to keep faith with David de Gea in goal despite several mistakes this year whilst playing for the national team.
Diego Costa has seemingly ended the debate in terms of the striker position with three goals in the tournament so far meaning the shape-up of the midfield is the only real issue that Hierro has to iron out.
Also read: Spain's Probable Starting Lineup