Eight Barcelona players off to the World Cup in Qatar with Spain

Eight Barcelona players off to the World Cup in Qatar with Spain

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Alonso, Bellerin and Roberto among those not to make the squad in the end

Luis Enrique's 26-man squad for the World Cup in Qatar included seven Barcelona players: Pedri, Sergio Busquets, Eric García, Gavi, Ferran Torres, Ansu Fati and Jordi Alba.

The spinal column of the La Roja side at this month's finals, therefore, will be made up of Barça players... and that number has now risen to eight after Alejandro Balde replaced the injured Jose Luis Gaya.

There were two more Barça players on the 55-man pre-tournament shortlist, but Marcos Alonso and Gerard Pique have not been called up. Sergi Roberto, Hector Bellerin and Iñaki Peña also missed out.

Balde's recent form propelled him into the running but it appeared to come just too late with Luis Enrique opting to stick with Alba and Gaya, who are tried and tested with the national team.

However, Gaya's injury paved the way for a late call-up for Balde, who at 19 has still never been capped at senior level.

Alonso's versatility made him an outside bet given his form at centre-back for Barça, but Luis Enrique did not have enough space for the former Chelsea man.

The most special case was Ansi Fati. The forward was set to be the star of this Spain side but injuries have slowed him down. But Luis Enrique opted to take him.

Ansu was not involved in recent months with the national team but his performances with Barça, where he has proven his fitness, have earned him a seat on the plane.

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