Spain's 'perfect combination' at World Cup makes up for lack of superstars
Eric Garcia believes Spain's "spectacular" blend of exuberant youngsters and experienced veterans could see them beat any team at the World Cup in Qatar.
Between 2008 and 2012, Spain lifted two European Championship titles and also won their first World Cup as they dominated international football, boasting stars such as Andres Iniesta, Iker Casillas and David Villa.
However, since that Euro 2012 triumph, Spain have not made it back to a major tournament final and the majority of their key players from those glory years have retired.
Just Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba remain from that Euro 2012 squad, but the emergence of exciting young talent such as Ansu Fati and Pedri has reignited hopes of success returning under the stewardship of Luis Enrique.
Defender Garcia feels Spain's mix of senior figures, such as Busquets and Alba, and their electrifying tyros could lead to a successful tournament in Qatar.
"For me, we have a perfect combination between young and old," Garcia told SPORT. "In the end, youngsters continue to learn every day, and other more experienced players try to teach us.
"I think that this combination has many benefits in many aspects, because this group is spectacular.
"We have to be ourselves. We know what we are capable of when we are ourselves, we can compete and beat any team. That is the first step, first Costa Rica and then the rest, with the intention of going far, which is what we want.
"Maybe we don't have a [Lionel] Messi or a Neymar, but we have players who individually contribute a great plus, like Pedri, Gavi, Busquets, [Marco] Asensio at the level he is. Having these players will help us."
Qatar will be Garcia's first taste of World Cup action with Spain, and he is thrilled to be part of the team, explaining how he watched past tournaments since childhood.
"As you get older, you're thinking, 'I wish I could be there one day'," he said. "It is a privilege to be able to be here, living an experience that everyone would like to live, so it must be appreciated and valued."
Garcia hopes to be selected in Luis Enrique's line-up for Spain's opening game against Costa Rice on Wednesday, adding: "The competition in each position is very high, but in my head is to work as much as possible in training and if the coach counts on me, be at the highest possible level every minute I play."
After the meeting with Costa Rica, Spain will take on Germany and Japan in Group E.