Why Del Bosque's Faith Is Justified

Eyebrows have been raised about the inclusion of Fernando Torres in the Spain squad but Tim Stannard argues that his form in big games justifies the decision...

Last Updated: 06/06/14 at 11:18 Post Comment

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Curious. Very curious indeed.

It was the kind of decision that - had the manager been looking after the England team and thus been stratospherically unsuccessful - would have seen the tabloids putting carrots up the exhaust pipe of the poor coach's car.

But Vicente Del Bosque is the manager of Spain and a World Cup winner. And then there's the European Championships. So, there was not too much protesting the choices of the mustachioed genius in his 23-man-squad for Brazil aside from a sort of high-pitched, semi passive-aggressive, "Fernando Torres. Areeeee you suurrrrrre?" The kind of noise a snooty wine waiter might make when trying to mock your choices, while still keeping in the running for a hefty tip.

The Chelsea striker was just the start of a small tittering of a debate over the footballers charged with the not-insignificant task of retaining the World Cup. But the choice to bring along Torres is quite easily explained; Del Bosque rewards loyalty and consistency. The former Atlético Madrid striker might not have been pulling up trees in the Premier League of late but Torres delivers in those big moments for Spain.

It is the same situation for David Villa. The newly moved MLS man is far from his imperious prime, but Del Bosque feels that the enormous experience and ability to produce something astonishing out of nothing is of greater value than footballers like Fernando Llorente, who had a solid season at Juventus, or Alvaro Negredo.

Diego Costa falls into a completely different bracket with some failing to understand the decision to bring along a forward who is hamstring-knacked, quite possibly physically and mentally exhausted and has barely had a chance to fit in with Spain's particular way of playing. But that's exactly why the forward is back in his homeland strutting his stuff for his adopted country.

The Atlético striker adds a couple of attributes that have been missing from Spain's play of late - physicality and aggression. Undoubtedly, the tiki-taka habit will be hard to kick, but the tactics are now likely to be pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, elbow to the face, pass, strike, goal. Costa is a useful addition to the other wee men up front which include David Silva, Juan Mata and Pedro. The smart of idea of bringing along one of Costa's partners-in-crime, Koke, is only going to aid Spain's attempts to make their play a little more direct and to the point.

However, the inclusion of Koke along with playmakers such as Santi Cazorla, who will no doubt be starting on the bench, also reflects a major weak spot in the Spanish team, and that's width. It's no wonder that Atlético Madrid's Juanfran was taken along to Brazil.

The no-nonsense right-back was formerly a right winger with Osasuna before being converted into the full-back position by Diego Simeone, a move that started through a squad shortage with the Rojiblancos but ended with the defender being the surprise package for La Roja over the past 18 months. Tellingly Juanfran got the nod over the talented but raw Dani Carvajal of Real Madrid, in a position that suddenly sees an awful lot of competition with Alvaro Arbeloa also being left out in favour of Cesar Azpilicueta.

Yes, Del Bosque has taken a risk in some decisions and perhaps played it too safe with others, but the group headed to Brazil is an intriguing squad that makes Spain a little more unpredictable than before. Players like Ramos, Javi Martínez, Juanfran, Sergi Busquets and Costa are certainly capable of withstanding any physical challenge - and giving a little back - whilst the guile is still around in the form of the evergreen Andrés Iniesta, Silva and Pedro.

It is early doors but Del Bosque's 23 look quite capable of making it four major competitions in a row for Spain, to cement a truly golden era for La Roja.

The squad:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), David De Gea (Manchester United)

Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Midfielders: Xavi (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Juan Mata (Manchester United), David Silva (Manchester City)

Forwards: Pedro (Barcelona), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), David Villa (Atletico Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea).

Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter

Llorente was much better choice over Costa even when he was fit. Now that he is injured it doesnt make any sense taking him and leaving Llorente out.
- metal

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