By Ben Hayward | Spain Expert
Three goalkeepers, four forwards, six defenders and 10 midfielders. Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was clearly playing to his strengths as he announced his final squad for Euro 2012 on Sunday, but the selection will cause concern - the list looks light at the back and overcrowded in the middle.
In came Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Pedro from Barcelona, along with Athletic Bilbao duo Fernando Llorente and Javi Martinez, while Chelsea pair Juan Mata and Fernando Torres were also confirmed. Out went Adrian, Benat, Alvaro Dominguez, Isco, Javi Garcia, Nacho Monreal, Roberto Soldado and Bruno Soriano.
Adrian had looked to have done enough to be included after he scored and won a penalty in Spain's 2-0 win over Serbia on Saturday. The Atletico Madrid forward has enjoyed an impressive campaign at the Vicente Calderon and looked certain to make the cut.
In the end, however, Del Bosque dispensed with the former Deportivo La Coruna forward and also left out Soldado, disappointing on Saturday but in fine form for much of the season and a hat-trick hero in his previous game for Spain - a 5-0 win against Venezuela earlier this year.
Pedro's two-goal display in the final of the Copa del Rey on Friday was a timely boost for the Barcelona forward, who had looked set to miss out following an indifferent campaign at Camp Nou. With club colleague David Villa excluded after failing to recover from a broken leg sustained in December, Del Bosque has placed his faith in the recently improved Fernando Torres, along with Alvaro Negredo (poor in his 45 minutes on Saturday but an important individual in the qualifiers) and Llorente for the centre-forward role. None convince completely, with the Basque forward seemingly unsuited to Spain's style of play, Torres far from the form which saw him shine at Euro 2008 and Negredo a somewhat uninspiring choice.
|DEL BOSQUE'S SQUAD FOR EURO 2012
||Real Madrid||Victor Valdes
||Valencia||Raul Albiol||Real Madrid|
||Real Madrid||Gerard Pique
|Sergio Ramos||Real Madrid||Juanfran Torres
||Real Madrid||Sergio Busquets
|David Silva||Manchester City||Xavi||Barcelona|
||Athletic Bilbao||Alvaro Negredo
There are options, however. Cesc, Mata, Silva and even Iniesta can all play in advanced roles, while Del Bosque may decide to opt for a false No.9 at times in Poland and Ukraine.
There had been much meditation, the Spain coach said. Nevertheless, the decision to select only six natural defenders is a big risk. With Barca's courageous captain Carles Puyol sidelined, Sergio Ramos will move alongside Gerard Pique in central defence, with Raul Albiol as back-up. Alvaro Arbeloa is likely to get the nod on the right as Athletic's Andoni Iraola misses out due to injury problems, but the Real Madrid man has been below his best in recent months. Arbeloa may also be required to cover on the other side if Jordi Alba is injured, with the Valencia defender the only left-back included. Juanfran Torres, meanwhile, is rewarded for his fine campaign at Atletico and makes the final cut.
Del Bosque can call on Javi Martinez, who played most of the season in central defence for Athletic and impressed there, or even Barca's Busquets, if there are injuries in defence. But it remains a risk as Spain look thin on the ground at the back and that is surely the principal problem for La Roja as they seek a third title at international level in successive major tournaments.
Calling up 10 midfielders seems a capricious choice by Del Bosque, who could conceivably have left out Sevilla's Navas or another of his middle men. It may be one too many.