Mata absent from Spain squad

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has been left out of Spain's squad for next Wednesday's friendly against Italy.

Last Updated: 28/02/14 at 15:28 Post Comment

Juan Mata: Has failed to make the Spain squad

Juan Mata: Has failed to make the Spain squad

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Vicente del Bosque is holding the door to the World Cup open for Juan Mata and Fernando Torres but the message could hardly have been more blunt from Spain's coach on Friday.

In announcing a 22-man party for next Wednesday's friendly against Italy at the Vicente Calderon stadium, Del Bosque said players outside that squad would have to nudge others out through high performance over the closing weeks of the season.

Asked specifically about his omission of Manchester United's £37.1million man Mata, and Spain's record goalscorer David Villa, Del Bosque made it clear that he cannot pick players who are under-performing or seeing little action.

"There have been players who have not had much continuity but we are not overly concerned right now," Del Bosque said.

"In the case of Juan, we really like him, we know his potential, but we don't have room for everyone.

"This is a list only for the match against Italy. It doesn't mean anything for Brazil 2014."

Mata is settling into life at Manchester United, after leaving Chelsea, but after being a fringe figure at Stamford Bridge he is still striving to rediscover his best form.

Torres, who scored the winning goal in the Euro 2008 final, appeared as a substitute in the 2010 World Cup final and claimed the Golden Boot at the last European Championship, was another to be left out of Friday's squad.

The Chelsea striker scored for his club against Galatasaray in midweek but his performances for Jose Mourinho's side have only been fleetingly impressive.

Del Bosque believes that in Alvaro Negredo of Manchester City, and Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa, he has a strikeforce in which he can trust.

Costa has yet to make his Spain debut, after switching nationality, having previously made two appearances in friendly internationals for his native Brazil.

He had been in Spain's squad for autumn friendlies against Equitorial Guinea and South Africa, but injury forced him to withdraw.

The new boy will be on familiar territory should Del Bosque select him, with the clash against the Azzurri to be played at his club ground. And Costa is just one behind 22-goal Cristiano Ronaldo in the Primera Division scoring charts this season, netting at just under a goal per game, which has made him impossible to ignore.

"I won't hide the fact he is a unique case," Del Bosque said. "He comes in on merit for what he has achieved for his club and we think he can help us."

The Spain boss added: "The last great test is Italy before the World Cup. The players will then have three months to do well with their clubs and get to the World Cup."

Del Bosque , who was speaking in a press conference that was broadcast on the Spanish Footballers' Association website, explained why he had recalled Chelsea full-back Cesar Azpilicueta.

While Torres is left behind in London, club-mate Azpilicueta will be looking to make a positive impression, having been absent from the Spain squad since last summer.

A natural right-back, Mourinho has fielded Azpilicueta at left-back this season, ahead of England's Ashley Cole.

"He hasn't been with us since the Confederations Cup," Del Bosque said. "His versatility suits us because he plays on both sides."

Carles Puyol was a predictable absentee, having scarcely featured for Barcelona due to fitness problems this season.

But Del Bosque would welcome a fit Puyol in Brazil.

"He hasn't been discarded," said the Spain boss. "If he plays regularly and is physically well, we have no doubts about him. He is a benchmark player."

Spain squad for friendly against Italy in Madrid on March 5:

Casillas (Real Madrid), Reina (Napoli), Valdes (Barcelona); Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), J Martinez (Bayern Munich), Ramos (Real Madrid), Alba (Barcelona), Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Albiol (Napoli); X Alonso (Real Madrid), Busquets (Barcelona), Xavi (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Thiago (Bayern Munich), Iniesta (Barcelona), Navas (Barcelona), Cazorla (Arsenal), Fabregas (Barcelona), Silva (Manchester City); Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), Negredo (Manchester City), Pedro (Barcelona).


New Sky Bet customers: Free matched bet up to £30


More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

H

ang on there!! We've only just won the second in a row. Don't we have to win three, like Brazil, to get to keep the Cup permanently at our stadium? ;-)

gutbukkit
Emirates to sponsor FA Cup

T

ypical Bodgers, in desperate need of a defensive midfielder and go for a floaty number 10 type midfielder. BODGERS OUT.

uncle monty
The Home Gossip

B

enteke is an absolute steal for £32.5m, he would get into any team in the world (except Barcelona) at the moment. I've seen many very good strikers in my 30+ years as a Villa fan. This guy is the best without question.

sparkigol
Benteke's £32.5m release clause

Footer 365

Southampton into Europa League after Aston Villa lose FA Cup final

Kelvin Davis says Southampton should be proud of their season after their place in the Europa League was confirmed.

Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa: Dominant Gunners seal record FA Cup victory

Holders Arsenal won the FA Cup for a record 12th time after beating Aston Villa 4-0 in a one-sided final at Wembley.

Arsene Wenger says FA Cup hero Theo Walcott will stay at Arsenal

Arsene Wenger wants Theo Walcott to help Arsenal push for the title next season after firing them to FA Cup glory.

Mail Box

Players Must Stand Up For Qatar Boycott

Players, not bureaucrats, hold the key to boycotting Qatar. Also in the afternoon mailbox: Wenger is right to rotate, Zlatan can dribble, and it's Barca v Ajax in the budget final...

What Would You Do If You Were Blatter?

Step into Sepp's shoes, is the invitation from one mailboxer. Also: United already have their new number one, Rodgers deserves time, and the best Budget XI so far...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company