Rodrigo, Bernat, Alcacer, Iturraspe, Carvajal: Vicente del Bosque’s upstarts herald change of guard at Euro 2016 champions Spain

A poor World Cup sees the coach refresh his squad and introduce new talents. Ahead of tonight’s game in Bratislava, we look at five of Spain’s new call-ups.

Vicente del Bosque, centre, leads the team's training session at Las Rozas sports city in Madrid. Kiko Huesca / EPA
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European champions Spain aim to continue their progress towards the 2016 European Championships in France with a group game against Slovakia tonight. A poor World Cup saw coach Vicente del Bosque refresh his squad and introduce new talents. Ahead of tonight’s game in Bratislava, we look at five of Spain’s new call-ups.

Juan Bernat (Bayern Munich)

Manchester United watched the Valencia left-back several times last season before concluding that, while he was excellent going forward, he was not as defensively sound as they had hoped. United signed Luke Shaw, 18, for £30 million (Dh177m) while Bernat, 21, joined Bayern Munich for €9 million (Dh41.8m) in June.

The Valencian settled quickly in Germany and broke straight into Pep Guardiola’s side. He had risen through Valencia’s youth ranks, had represented Spain at every age group from Under 16, but it was still a surprise when he was called up by Del Bosque for the full squad last week for this week’s games against Slovakia and Luxembourg.

Francisco Alcacer (Valencia)

Diminutive striker Francisco “Paco” Alcacer, 21, enjoyed a breakthrough season last term, including a hat-trick against Basel in the Europa League.

The Valencian is a product of the Mestalla youth system and had represented Spain at every age group up to Under 21 level before his full call up last week.

A centre-forward who can play as a secondary striker, he was awarded his debut at 17 years and two months in 2010, but was loaned to Getafe in 2012/13 where he scored three goals in 20 games.

He returned to the Mestalla last season and scored 14 times in 40 matches, including seven goals in the Europa League. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger watched him three times and the stock of Valencia’s current top scorer continues to rise as his side remain unbeaten.

Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia)

Valencia’s main close-season signing, Brazil-born striker Rodrigo, 23, arrived from Benfica on a loan deal having helped the Lisbon side win a treble. It was another move in a nomadic life spent following his father, a professional footballer.

Rodrigo was in Celta Vigo’s youth system before a move to Real Madrid in 2009, where he made the reserves and trained with the first team.

A move to Benfica followed before he was loaned to Bolton Wanderers in 2010, an experience he enjoyed despite not being a regular starter.

His career took off at Benfica, especially last season where he scored 19 goals, was man of the match in the Portuguese Cup final, a league champion and Europa League finalist. He could have been a winner, had he not missed a penalty.

Ander Iturraspe (Athletic Bilbao)

Athletic’s two midfield Anders have been the hub of their successful side in recent seasons. One, Herrera, has left, but the other, Iturraspe, 25, remains. He is the heart of the Basque side, distributing the ball and adding balance.

He was the stand-out player as they beat Barcelona last season, and such performances won Iturraspe a first Spain call up this year.

Approaching 200 games for his club who have given him a €40m buy-out clause, he plays in the defensive midfield role usually occupied by Sergio Busquets. Competition is fierce in Spain’s midfield, but the indefatigable Basque is proud to be the only Athletic player in the squad.

Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid)

Real Madrid fans were not impressed when Jose Mourinho allowed reserve full-back Carvajal to join Bayer Leverkusen for €5m in 2012.

“The academy has good players, but Mourinho has barely wanted to use them,” said famous Madrid personality Tomas Roncero. “He let locally born player Carvajal, a better full-back than Arbeloa, leave.”

With Mourinho gone, Madrid exercised a buy-back clause and re-signed Carvajal for €6.5m after a successful season in the Bundesliga. He quickly established himself as the first choice right-back ahead of Arbeloa, starting in 45 matches.

Carvajal, 22, had represented Spain at Under 19 and U21 level and was rewarded with his full international debut against France last month when he played 90 ­minutes.

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