By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor
Perhaps David Silva was right to complain. The Manchester City midfielder claimed late last month that he was being overlooked at international level by Spain coach Vicente del Bosque because he did not play for Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Silva has been mainly a bit-part player for Spain in his half-century of international appearances and the player's father revealed his son was 'resigned' to his fate for La Roja.
The comments did not appear to go down well with Del Bosque, who claimed that there were plenty of other footballers worthy of a place, too, while opining that Silva's words had been 'ill-advised'.
But the Spain coach, ever the diplomat, refused to shun Silva. Instead, he started the former Valencia man against Czech Republic on Friday night. And the move paid huge dividends.
Del Bosque also surprised many by fielding Fernando Torres in his starting line-up in Prague. The Chelsea striker, out of sorts since his injury prior to last summer's World Cup, was not even on the bench for La Roja in the 6-0 win over Liechtenstein in early September, but was handed another opportunity here. He didn't take it.
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Torres was a willing runner on the flanks and linked up well on occasions with club colleague Juan Mata, but the Chelsea striker did not appear to be on the same wavelength as his team-mates and failed to take up the kind of positions expected of a striker of his calibre.
The former Liverpool forward showed too much of the ball to a Czech defender when he looked to have made a decent opportunity to shoot in the second half and also tested Petr Cech with a tame header. But that was about it.
Torres was replaced on the hour by David Villa and Spain's all-time top goalscorer immediately looked more threatening in a front three made up of a trio of former Valencia players.
“Silva and Mata are hugely important. They link up well in midfield and at the same time allow us to play with three forwards. They had a great game.”
- Vicente del Bosque
Villa, Mata and Silva have played together on countless occasions in the past and the former Mestalla heroes give Del Bosque an intriguing option in attack. Against the Czechs, Mata opened the scoring after just six minutes with a fine finish, but Silva was the pick as he brilliantly set up a second for Xabi Alonso and caused the hosts all sorts of problems with his pace and trickery, on the left, on the right and through the middle. He was everywhere.
Del Bosque, of course, will soon welcome back Barca duo Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas from their respective hamstring injuries, and has a wealth of options at his disposal as Spain head triumphantly to Euro 2012 on the back of seven wins from seven so far.
Another Barca star, Pedro, was left out of the final matchday squad for the game in Prague, but will feature against Scotland in La Roja's last Group I qualifier on Tuesday. Torres, though, may not be so lucky.
On this evidence, the Chelsea striker may not even be needed in future. Because his 25-year-old team-mate from Gran Canaria has shown that he is more than ready to step in and stake a claim to be a first-team fixture for the World Cup winners.
So there is no need for Del Bosque or fans of La Roja to lament. Friday night's win in Prague proved that Spain's Torres cloud has a Silva lining after all.
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