Well, its another FIFA international break (yawn), and my least favorite international break of the year being just 1 or 2 weeks into all the leagues. Spain will be playing 2 matches in the next 5 days, the first being a friendly (another one!) Friday night (18:45 GMT) against Chile in Geneva, Switzerland. Then on Wednesday night they play in Logroño, a city in northern Spain, infront of just 16,000 spectators against Lichenstein (20:00 GMT).
From the 24 man spain, there are 3 players called up for the first time, those being Atletico Madrid’s Álvaro Domínguez, Gijon’s Botía, and our very own Martín Montoya. 6 of the 2011 Euro Under 21 Championship team were rewarded for their success at that level with calls ups, 3 of those are the debutants mentioned before while the other three are Mata, Martínez, and Thiago. Being that one match is a friendly and the other is against Lichenstein (with all due respect), it seems a perfect time to introduce fresh blood into the team and reward the young guys for excellent work in the youth set up.
As always the selection is as much above those in the list as those who didn’t make it. Notable absantees were Marchena and Capdevila, but Del Bosque made it quite clear just because they were not in the squad this time does not mean their international career is over. The left back position in Spain is a bit of an issue. With Capdevila 33 and now playing at Benfica, Del Bosque may need to figure out who be the starting left back in Euro 2012. It appeared Monreal was the player in training. He has moved to Málaga this year and it will be interesting to see how he does there. Personally, I don’t see any room for Marchena anymore. He’s never been a talented player and he will be 33 at the Euro. All he really does now is play quite dirty, like he did Monday night with constant fouling of Messi. I was surprised to not see Bruno from Villarreal in the team rather as he has impressed the last season and has been in the squad quite a few times.
The other big interest in the team is the atmosphere. From the rather posionous Clasicos, many have fretted the team’s unity will be affected. It was not an issue over the summer, and despite another melee during the Super Cup, the reports are that everything is fine. Casillas called Xavi and Puyol afte those matches to apologise for calling Cesc a diver and they smoothed things over, and the captain also hosted a lunch for the entire team earlier in the week. Busquets said quite bluntly there is a positive attitude in the group, while Ramos despite attempting to sound totally positive, there seems a bit of resentment on his part. He noted that Del Bosque was worried about this issue, but said the team is well aware they could make history by winning a 3rd major tournament in a row, and despite some “disturbance”, they are in it together. He also said we “hope” to get the same great atmosphere as before. So those ifs and buts point to the fact he at least cannot completley put the recent clashes aside just yet.
Of course, breaking down the squad into the clubs, we at Barça can feel very proud (again) to contribute the most players with 9. Of course Botía came from our academy only a few years ago, so we can almost claim 10 players. Our rivals Real Madrid have 5 players in the squad, while the remaining 10 are essentially spread around several other clubs. Only 3 players play outside La Liga, those being Chelsea’s Mata and Torres, and Liverpool’s Reina.
The predicted line up for tomorrow’s game is Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Arbeloa, Javi Martínez, Albiol; Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi; Silva, Negredo y Villa. Martínez at center back will be an experiment, not sure why, but seems it’s ala Busquets at Barça.
Most the rest of the first team have also joined their respective nations. The only first team players left during this period are Pinto, Maxwell, Adriano, Piqué, Puyol, Fontàs, Afellay, and Keita.
The sooner this break is over the better. So use this space here to discussion whatever is on your mind the next few days. Let’s hope none of our players comeback with the “FIFA Virus”.
Oh yeah, also, Hleb secured a loan move to Wolfsburg on deadline day. We must be unable to sell him because loaning him out each year doesn’t make sense. Yeah we save the wages but sooner than later his contract will run out and he leaves for free. Why not sell him for a few mill to anyone. Anyway.
Full Spain Squad:
GK – Casillas (Real Madrid), Reina (Liverpool), Valdés (Barça)
DEF – Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Albiol (Real Madrid), Ramos (Real Madrid), Montoya (Barcelona), Botía (Gijon), Domínguez (Atletico Madrid)
MID – Alonso (Real Madrid), Busquets, Iniesta, Thiago, Fàbregas, Xavi (all Barça), Cazorla (Málaga), Silva (Manchester City), Martínez (Bilbao), Mata (Chelsea)
FWD – Villa (Barça), Pedro (Barça), Llorente (Bilbao), Torres (Chelsea), Negredo (Sevilla)