With the semi final clash against Italy looming, Goal's Shikharr Chandra looks at La Roja's striking options and who should get the nod for this vital clash..
By Shikharr Chandra
It's amazing that a team as perfect and balanced as Spain does not have a first choice center forward. Vicente Del Bosque has had a problem in picking a number nine for his side over the last two years or so. Ever since David Villa's injury mid-way into the 2011-12 season, Spain haven't had a first choice striker. At the European Championship, which Villa missed out on, Del Bosque preferred to hand Cesc Fabregas a start in the false nine role.
Although Fabregas did a decent job but that wasn't always convincing for a world class team as Spain. He didn't excel in his role as Lionel Messi does for Barcelona and Francesco Totti did for AS Roma.
"We don't have the striker that we want," Del Bosque's statement was a clear indication that none of the three forwards were guaranteed a place in the starting eleven.
However at the Confederations Cup, Del Bosque hasn't yet delpoyed Fabregas as a false nine and instead opted for a center forward in Roberto Soldado, Fernando Torres and David Villa.
|"Negredo, Torres and Soldado were all given chances. Villa hasn't done anything out of the ordinary for us. If we only had a decent centre-forward..."|
In their opener against Uruguay, Soldado justified his selection by getting on the scoresheet and linking up with his team-mates in the attack. The Valencia forward was a complete nuisance for the Uruguayan defense throughout.
Against Tahiti, Del Bosque opted to give both Torres and Villa a run-in. He wanted them to prove themselves and win over the starting berth in the team. They did respond well to the challenge with Torres scoring four and Villa a hat-trick.
|Torres||Apps: 1(1)||Goals: 5||Assists: 2||Shots per game: 6.5||Passing %: 85.7|
|Villa||Apps: 1(1)||Goals: 3||Assists: 1||Shots per game: 4||Passing %: 84.2|
|Soldado||Apps: 2||Goals: 1||Assists: 1||Shots per game: 2.5||Passing %: 91.1|
The final group game saw Spain face their toughest test against African Champions Nigeria, a game La Roja won 3-0. With Soldado being rested against Tahiti it was no surprise that the Valencia forward got the nod ahead of Villa and Torres despite bring prolific in the last group game.
What followed was a disappointing performance by the Valencia striker. He squandered two chances in the first half and was thereby substituted for Torres. The Chelsea striker scored a spectacular header to give Spain the much needed breathing space over the Africans and becoming the top scorer in this edition of the Confederations Cup.
It does seem that the harsh statement of Del Bosque ahead of the tournament did manage to yield the best out of his strikers. At Euro 2012, the center forwards had contributed just three goals out of the 10 scored (excluding the penalty shootout against Portugal). However that has changed by a mile with the strikers scoring 9 of the 15 goals scored by La Roja.
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