No.1 Kepa back for Spain, Retegui named for Italy

New Spain coach Luis de la Fuente has brought back Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and more veterans for European Championship qualifiers in his first squad since replacing Luis Enrique.

De la Fuente stuck with only 11 players whom Luis Enrique took to last year's World Cup, where Spain disappointed in a penalty-shootout loss to Morocco in the round of 16.

The group of World Cup players who were dropped include the Barcelona quartet of Jordi Alba, Ferran Torres, Ansu Fati and Eric Garcia, along with Atletico Madrid midfielders Koke Resurreccion and Marcos Llorente, and Real Madrid forward Marco Asensio.

In come Iago Aspas, Celta Vigo's 35-year-old striker who made his 18th and last appearance for Spain in 2019. Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez, 33, returns for the first time since 2018.

Kepa was last in the squad in 2020. Athletic Bilbao goalie Unai Simon, Spain's starter at the World Cup and the last European Championship, is injured.

Spain hosts Norway in Malaga on March 25 then play Scotland in Glasgow three days later in the first qualifiers for the 2024 European Championship in Germany. Georgia and Cyprus are also in Group A.

Madrid's Dani Ceballos, Bilbao defender Inigo Martinez, and Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Merino, are all also back after missing the World Cup.

Two strikers, Villarreal's Gerard Moreno and Sociedad's Mikel Oyarzabal, were recalled after they missed the tournament in Qatar due to injury.

De la Fuente found his replacement for retired holding midfielder Sergio Busquets in Sociedad's Martin Zubimendi, who has only one cap.

Espanyol striker Joselu Mato, who has 12 goals in the Spanish league this season, can make his international debut at age 32. The same goes for Osasuna's 29-year-old centre back David Garcia.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini included three uncapped players in his 30-man squad as the Euro 2020 champions look to kick off their qualifying campaign for the 2024 tournament against England and Malta later this month.

Lecce goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone, Torino defender Alessandro Buongiorno and Atletico Tigre striker Mateo Retegui were all named in the national squad for the first time, bringing Mancini's total number of players called up for Italy to 102.

"We've been following Retegui for a while, he's been playing regularly in the Argentine league for two seasons. He has qualities that we currently lack," Mancini said.

SPAIN: Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea), Robert Sanchez (Brighton) David Raya (Brentford).

Defenders: Jose Luis Gaya (Valencia), Alejandro Balde (Barcelona), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), David Garcia (Osasuna), Pedro Porro (Tottenham).

Midfielders: Rodri Hernandez (Manchester City), Martin Zubimendi (Real Sociedad), Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad), Gavi Paez (Barcelona), Fabian Ruiz (Paris Saint-Germain), Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid).

Forwards: Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Dani Olmo (Leipzig), Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Bryan Gil (Sevilla), Mikel Oyazarbal (Real Sociedad), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Joselu (Espanyol), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)

ITALY: Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Wladimiro Falcone, Alex Meret, Ivan Provedel.

Defenders: Francesco Acerbi, Leonardo Bonucci, Alessandro Buongiorno, Matteo Darmian, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Federico Dimarco, Alessio Romagnoli, Giorgio Scalvini, Leonardo Spinazzola, Rafael Toloi.

Midfielders: Nicolo Barella, Bryan Cristante, Davide Frattesi, Jorginho, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Matteo Pessina, Sandro Tonali, Marco Verratti.

Attackers: Domenico Berardi, Federico Chiesa, Wilfried Gnonto, Vincenzo Grifo, Simone Pafundi, Matteo Politano, Mateo Retegui, Gianluca Scamacca.

with Reuters