Spain qualified for Euro 2012 in fairly serene fashion but it’s not all been a picnic since Andres Iniesta’s late strike against the Dutch two summers ago made La Roja the world champions.
High profile friendly defeats to Argentina, Portugal, Italy and England have exposed some chinks in their armour and Vicente del Bosque’s preparations for the tournament have been hindered by the Champions League and Copa del Rey finals.
Del Bosque has named a provisional 21-man squad ahead of looseners with Serbia and South Korea but has been forced to do without the Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao contingent, plus Chelsea duo Juan Mata and Fernando Torres.
The quality of a provisional squad still missing a number of big stars highlights Spain’s strength in depth and shows why they are 11/4 favourites to win Euro 2012 with bwin.
Those omissions mean the final cut could see up to half of the names and faces in the squad change but there are a couple of the lynchpins of the Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 successes that are unlikely to feature either way.
Carles Puyol is almost certain to miss out after injuring knee ligaments and David Villa has still not made his return from a broken leg suffered in December.
Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata and Fernando Llorente will eventually be in the squad, but their temporary exclusions has opened the way for a few untried names to force their way in before selection d-day.
Manchester United’s David de Gea heads a list of seven uncapped call-ups which also includes Atletico Madrid trio Alvaro Dominguez, Juanfran Torres and Adrian, Malaga’s Nacho Monreal, Real Betis’ Benat, Malaga’s Isco and Javi Garcia of Benfica.
Given Puyol’s absence, Raul Albiol gets a chance despite limited domestic exposure for Real Madrid and Sevilla’s Jesus Navas will also get a run out.
Still, the choice dividing opinion in Spain is what to do with Fernando Torres. The 2008 player of the tournament is still struggling to recapture those heights but with former partner in crime Villa missing, del Bosque may give el Nino another opportunity ahead of either Alvaro Negredo or Roberto Soldado.
Either way, the quality of a provisional squad still missing a number of big stars highlights Spain’s strength in depth and shows why they are 11/4 favourites to win Euro 2012 with bwin.
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