Catalan XI plus subs following region’s possible split from Spain
The patriotic Spanish region of Catalonia is seemingly edging nearer to splitting from the European country after ‘election victory’, according to separatists.
In light of the territory, which has a total population of around 7.5m, potentially pushing for a referendum, Coral have come up with a squad of stars that would be eligible for the possible new nation.
Catalonia has produced some of the best footballers in the world over the years, and have even taken part in unofficial friendlies, although the likes of Barcelona La Masia graduates Andres Iniesta, Pedro Rodriguez and Pepe Reina would not qualify under birth rules.
It is unclear what would happen to the likes of leading Catalan clubs Barca (3/1 to win the Champions League) or Espanyol if the region does gain independence; would they stay in La Liga, create a new league or even join France’s Ligue 1? But the majority of the following players have come through those two clubs’ youth academies.
Goalkeeper: Kiko Casilla (Real Madrid)
Spain cap Casilla may have come through Los Blancos’ academy and currently plays for them, but the 28-year-old was born in Alcover and spent time on the books of Catalan clubs Gimnastic and more prominently Espanyol.
Right back: Martin Montoya (Inter Milan, on-loan from Barcelona)
Gava-born 24-year-old Montoya’s progress at the Nou Camp has been slightly halted by Dani Alves’ presence in the team, but is hoping to gain experience with Serie A side Inter.
Centre back: Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Pique has always been a staunch supporter of Catalonia independence, which ha not always gone down well with Spain fans, so will almost certainly represent his place of birth if the chance is there. The former Manchester United defender has already played for them in eight friendlies.
Centre back: Marc Muniesa (Stoke City)
Muniesa was tipped for the time during his time with Barca as a youngster, but injuries stalled his progress and was eventually sold to Stoke for free. The 23-year-old has certainly helped Stoke become a feared Premier League team and they are 11/2 to finish in the top 10 this season.
Left back: Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
Discarded by Barca in his mid-teens, L’Hospitalet-born Alba has since returned to the club after highly impressing for Valencia which resulted in him earning Spain caps.
Defence midfield: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
At the age of just 27, Sabadell-born Busquets has already gained 77 caps for Spain, but may miss out on a century if he decides to switch to Catalonia.
Centre midfield: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
Like Alba, Fabregas was let go by Barcelona as a youth (to Arsenal) and then re-signed for the club, but he has since moved on again back to the Premier League with Chelsea (8/1 to defend their title). On 98 Spain caps already, he will almost certainly gain 100 before Catalonia possibly becomes independent.
Centre midfield: Xavi Hernandez (Al Sadd)
Although retired from Spain, now 35 years old and playing in Qatar, Terrassa native Xavi has always supported his local region, featuring for them more than 10 times, including their most recent friendly against the Basque Country.
Right wing: Cristian Tello (Porto, on-loan from Barcelona)
Tello has a good record for Barca, despite being behind the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar in the pecking order, and the fact that the club have kept him on their books suggests they have high hopes for him. The 24-year-old is spending a second season with Porto, who are 4/1 to win their Champions League Group G.
Left wing: Gerard Deulofeu (Everton)
Riudarenes-born 21-year-old Deulofeu was another highly-rated forward at Barca, but as the club couldn’t guarantee him first-team football, he was sold to Everton, who he played for on-loan in 2013/14, this summer.
Striker: Bojan Krkic (Stoke City)
Diminutive striker really was tipped for the top, after breaking a number of records as a teenager in the Barca senior team, but injuries and lack of form eventually saw him end up at Stoke, where he has shone, too.
Goalkeepers: Jordi Codina (APOEL Nicosia), Victor Valdes (Man Utd)
Defenders: Jordi Amat (Swansea City), Marc Bartra (Barcelona), Alberto de la Bella (Real Sociedad), Sergi Gomez (Celta Vigo)
Midfielders: David Lopez (Napoli), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Victor Vazquez (Club Brugge), Aleix Vidal (Barcelona)
Forwards: Jonathan Soriano (Red Bull Salzburg), Adama Traore (Aston Villa)