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Football
Will Spain be out of sorts at Euro 2012?
Spain go into Euro 2012 as favourites but they have a number of attacking players who are not at the top of their game.
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2012 19:08
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque will hope Torres' form improves soon with the national side [GALLO/GETTY]  

Fernando Torres hasn't scored this year, David Villa is out with a long-term knee problem and midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez have seen their seasons limited by injuries.

World champion Spain's attack is in trouble only months before they defends their European Championship title, leaving coach Vicente del Bosque with some tough decisions - starting with Friday's squad announcement for an upcoming friendly against Venezuela.

Speculation over who can lead the attack has grown as Torres' form at Chelsea hasn't improved, although the striker could still play against Venezuela due to Villa's absence.

"There's only four months to go until the European Championship and it's true there are players who aren't at their best right now"

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque

Torres was an unused substitute in Chelsea's 3-1 loss at Napoli on Wednesday, with his last goal for the English club coming in October. Torres, whose goal against Germany in the Euro 2008 final lifted Spain to their first major title for 44 years, hasn't scored a competitive goal for his country since September 2010.

Villa, Spain's all-time leading goalscorer, fractured his left leg in December and is not expected back before May. Spain opens Group C play against Italy on June 10, with subsequent matches against Ireland and Croatia.

Like Iniesta, Pedro Rodriguez's season has been interrupted by injuries, while Xavi has played sparingly of late, starting only once in his last six matches. Defender Gerard Pique's form has also been less than steady at Barcelona.

"There's only four months to go until the European Championship and it's true there are players who aren't at their best right now, but we have time to evaluate and take decisions,'' Del Bosque said.

"We have plenty of players and we'll find the right No. 9 - if not the ideal one, one who can play the position.''

Alternatives

Fernando Llorente is a regular in the squad and could play a bigger role given the Athletic Bilbao striker's spectacular form of late, although the hulking striker offers different skills to the possession-based, touch football Spain thrives on.

Valencia's Roberto Soldado appears the leading candidate to make the squad with Sevilla pair Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas, who helped Spain win the World Cup in South Africa, enduring poor seasons.

Del Bosque could also adapt his tactics to suit one of his more offensive minded midfielders, with the likes of David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and Juan Mata all enjoying career seasons.

There is also an emerging crop of talented players emerging from the nation's youth categories pushing for places, with Bilbao's core of Iker Muniain, Andoni Iraiola and Ander Herrera all helping the Basque club to the Copa del Rey final.

"We went into the World Cup with the experience of having won the Euro and the players held themselves together very well"

Vicente del Bosque

Adrian Lopez has also shown the capacity to play combination football with the Atletico Madrid striker helping the under-21 team become European champions last summer as the competition's leading scorer.

Still, Del Bosque is maintaining his characteristic cool demeanor before Wednesday's match in Malaga, which will be Spain's last before the former Real Madrid coach names his Euro 2012 squad in May.

Spain are looking to become the first World Cup winner to defend their European title at the tournament in Poland and Ukraine between June 8-July 1.

"We went into the World Cup with the experience of having won the Euro and the players held themselves together very well,'' Del Bosque said.

"I think we're lucky that we can count on a group of players who know football well and whose competitive spirit remains intact."

Source:
AP
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