Del Bosque ponders strikeforce conundrum

AFP, Monday 11 Jun 2012

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is pondering a conundrum - with Barcelona hitman and record scorer David Villa injured, who does he turn to for goalscoring duties?


With Fernando Torres left on the bench to begin with against Italy, it was midfielder Cesc Fabregas who came to the rescue with the equaliser in a 1-1 draw but that aside, the defending champions did not look a fearsome attacking force.

The tiki-taka approach of their stellar midfield was as bewitching as usual - but the end product was generally lacking.

Del Bosque insisted afterwards that his strategy to push Cesc forward as a so-called 'false number nine' had paid off.

"I think our plan didn't work too badly,' insisted the former Real Madrid coach.

"We chose to start with Fabregas as we wanted a certain security in the middle of the park and to be able to combine well against an opponent who put us under a lot of pressure.
"In addition, Fabregas is a bit of a special case in that he is a midfielder with a fine eye for goal."

Yet his argument did not convince everyone - including his predecessor Luis Aragones, the man who led Spain to glory at 2008, who said Monday he did not like Del Bosque's tactics against the Italians.

In the opening half even Fabregas struggled to make an impression and the Spanish only stepped up the pace, the goal aside, when Torres came on for the final 17 minutes in Fabregas' stead.

Torres, coming off a generally poor season at Chelsea although he found some late season form as the club won the FA Cup and Champions League, slotted into the play well enough yet on the occasions when chances came his way his finishing was off beam.

"El Nino" is still not back to being the player he was when his goal defeated Germay in the 2008 final, as witnessed by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon reading him and dispossessing him as he ran goalwards shortly after coming on.

The 2008 version scored from a similar move.

Del Bosque does have other options, in fact, and one of them, Seville's Alvaro Negredo, may get the nod against Ireland on Thursday. Then there is also Fernando Llorente, the 'Lion King' from Athletic Bilbao, likewise champing at the bit to show his worth.

As Spain struggle to get their attack on track, even in defence all is not rosy as their central defensive partnership of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos looked a little creaky on occasion in the face of Italian pressure which injured icon Carles Puyol might have mopped up with greater aplomb.

Putting those defensive worries on one side, Del Bosque may reflect that France won the 1998 World Cup with goals from every quarter - save from their strikers.

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