Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has omitted Chelsea forwards Fernando Torres and Juan Mata out of his squad for next month’s World Cup qualifier against Finland and a friendly with Chile.
The attacking pair were fixtures for the world and European champions as they swept to a World Cup triumph in South Africa in 2010 and victory at last year’s European championship but are experiencing difficult times at the London club.
Torres, 29, remains a shadow of the player who struck fear into defences when he was at Liverpool, while the 25-year-old Mata appears to have lost his place in the Chelsea starting lineup under new coach Jose Mourinho.
What I am worried about at the moment is Finland on the sixth when we will be playing for three extremely important points
Del Bosque included forwards David Villa, Pedro, Roberto Soldado and Alvaro Negredo, as well as Negredo’s Manchester City team mates David Silva and Jesus Navas as Spain seek to protect their one-point lead over France at the top of Group I.
Finland surprised Spain in their qualifier in Gijon in March, coming from behind to draw 1-1, before Del Bosque’s men went on to beat France 1-0 in Paris to reclaim top spot.
“I have chosen the best, those that are in the best form, the right system, the right men, to compete and battle with these two teams,” Del Bosque said at a news conference at the Spanish soccer federation’s headquarters outside Madrid.
“What I am worried about at the moment is Finland on the sixth when we will be playing for three extremely important points,” he said.
“We have options and we have people waiting in the wings who could also bring something to the team.”
Quizzed about why he had also left out Chelsea fullback Cesar Azpilicueta, Del Bosque said it was “a coincidence” and had nothing to do with Mourinho or the Portuguese’s decisions.
He also spoke about the possibility of Atletico Madrid’s Brazil-born striker Diego Costa playing for Spain after recently gaining Spanish nationality.
“We did not call him up this time,” Del Bosque said.
“We will do what we feel is appropriate depending on how he performs for his club.”
Spain play Finland in Helsinki on September 6 and meet Chile in Geneva four days later.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Napoli)
Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Isco (Real Madrid), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Xavi (Barcelona), Mario Suarez (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
Forwards: Jesus Navas (Manchester City), David Silva (Manchester City), Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Roberto Soldado (Tottenham Hotspur), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Pedro (Barcelona), David Villa (Atletico Madrid)