Euro 2012: Fernando Torres included in Spain’s final 23-man squad
• Chelsea striker chosen despite lack of goals in club season
• No place for David de Gea or Valencia’s Roberto Soldado
Fernando Torres has returned to the Spain squad defending the European Championship, and may yet end up as fir st-choice striker in Poland and Ukraine. The Chelsea forward, who had been left out of the previous squad in February, but was named in Vicente del Bosque’s final 23 on Sunday.
Despite hopes that he would make it, David Villa, the top scorer at both Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, has not recovered in time from the broken leg he suffered during the World Club Championship in Japan before Christmas. The Spain coach described Villa as “irreplaceable” but insisted that there are “solutions everywhere”. Right now, Torres could be the most attractive of them.
Spain will also be without Carles Puyol, who has had to pull out through injury – on 99 caps. His absence almost certainly means Sergio Ramos moving from full-back to centre-back. Coupled with the late withdrawal of Andoni Iraola through injury, that has brought a call-up for Juanfran Torres, a converted winger who played at right-back during the second half of the season. There was no place for the Man chester United goalkeeper David de Gea, with Iker Casillas, Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina chosen ahead of him. De Gea will play for Spain at the Olympic Games in London.
This is the third squad the Spain coach has named after he was forced into a convoluted process provoked by the drawn out nature of the end of the Spanish season. It has also left a number of disappointed players to continue with the national team for the next few days, even though they now know that they will not be present in Poland and Ukraine.
First, Del Bosque named a full squad of players, but one that did not include anyone from Champions League finalists Chelsea or Copa del Rey finalists Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao — teams that between them had over a dozen potential candidates. Then, after the final in Munich, he added Juan Mata and Torres to the provisional list. And following Friday’s Copa del Rey final, he called up nine more players from among the finalists.
It is in th e forward line that the starting lineup is most uncertain. Villa had hoped to play a few minutes in the final, which Barcelona won 3-0, but was ultimately ruled out a week ago. “His absence is a big blow,” Del Bosque said. “Because of his qualities and his effectiveness, he is irreplaceable. No one has performed better than him but we have to look for solutions, which could include Mata, Silva, Iniesta, Pedro …”
For Torres, there was no guarantee that he would make the final squad, even after his provisional call-up, but his inclusion opens up the possibility of him starting when Spain play their opening game against Italy on 10 June. The Chelsea player He will be vying for a start with Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente and Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo. Del Bosque has also tried a formation with no strikers at all, using Manchester City’s David Silva as the “false No9”.
There was no place in the squad for the Valencia centre-forward Roberto Soldado, Ath letic Bilbao’s Iker Muniain and Adrián López from Atlético Madrid, all of whom had been called into the preliminary squad. Their absences are among the only surprises in a squad that has largely been met with approval in Spain.
Adrián scored in a friendly on his debut on Saturday night but that was not enough for him to make it. Del Bosque had resisted calls to include Soldado but eventually called him up in February. Soldado scored a hat-trick against Venezuela in February on his international return, but although he scored 17 in the league and a hat-trick against Athletic Bilbao in March, he has scored only five goals in the three months since that call-up, although his season’s haul of 27 in all competitions looks pretty good compared with the 11 managed by Torres.
Torres expressed his frustration at the limited role he played in the Champions League final but has been outscored by Negredo on 14, Adrián on 19 and Soldado on 27, while Llorente finished wit h 29 though ended a wonderful season looking shattered as Athletic did not score a single goal in their final six matches.
Spain squad Casillas (Real Madrid), Valdes (Barcelona), Reina (Liverpool); Alba (Valencia), Albiol, Arbeloa, Ramos (all Real Madrid), Juanfran (Atlético Madrid), Piqué (Barcelona), Martínez (Athletic Bilbao); Alonso (Real Madrid), Silva (Manchester City), Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Fàbregas (all Barcelona), Cazorla (Villarreal), Navas (Sevilla), Mata (Chelsea); Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Torres (Chelsea), Negredo (Sevilla), Pedro (Barcelona). Read More