Newspapers throughout the world have recently been carrying news of the regional elections in Catalonia, Spain, over the election of the region’s government.
Although President Artur Mas received only 50 seats, twelve lower than what he received the last time, the reason he faced a drop in the number of seats is because he leads Catalonia’s most determined bid for independence in decades.
And a significant portion of Catalans feel they should be independent.
The region pays more taxes than what it receives in terms of government funding from Madrid, and in September this year, 1.5 million people flocked to Barcelona’s city centre in protest of the Spanish Central Government, calling for early elections to elect a new government and a referendum for independence.
But while Catalan players do make up a significant portion of the Spain national football team, those fiercely in favour of independence say that ‘Catalonia is not Spain’.
Under the assumption that Catalonia does become an independent nation tomorrow, what will be the implications for La Furia Roja?
Several players of the Spanish team come from Catalonia, with the core of the team coming primarily from FC Barcelona.
Centre-backs Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique and the midfield trio of Cesc Fabregas, Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets are all eligible and currently play for the Catalan regional side.
Players who have spent a large portion of their lives in Catalonia are also eligible to play for the side. Andres Iniesta, who has been brought up at La Masia, can play for the Catalans, as can defenders Juan Capdevila of Espanyol and Fernando Navarro of Sevilla.
A smattering of Barcelona’s youth players in Andreu Fontas, Martin Montoya, Marc Muniesa, Sergio Juste, Isaac Cuenca and Sergi Roberto can all play for the regional side, as can Milan duo Didac Vila and Bojan Krcic.
Espanyol would also contribute a few players to the side, such as goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, defender Raul Rodriguez, midfielder Juan Verdu and experienced striker Sergio Garcia. Getafe’s Alvaro Vazquez is an able back-up to the much-travelled Garcia.
The side also have an experienced goalkeeper in Barca’s Victor Valdes.
Several famous Spaniards have played for Catalonia, including Carles Rexach, Ricardo Zamora, Raul Tamudo, Oleguer Presas and Barcelona legend – as both player and manager – Pep Guardiola.
The team is quite capable of beating rather formidable opposition, as was emphasised when they beat Argentina 4-2 at the Camp Nou in 2009 and Colombia a year before that. The team has also beaten Chile, Nigeria and Ecuador in the past.
Should it enter the World Cup, it has a starting eleven and bench more than capable of holding its own. With a starting eleven primarily comprised of Barcelona and Espanyol players, the team, with its style of play would surely wow audiences at any tournament.
And given the talent this team has, they could be the first nation to win the World Cup at the first time of asking.
However, the more interesting aspect would be to see what happens to Spain and how their players react.