Spain opt for Negredo as Soldado misses out

Reuters, Sunday 27 May 2012

Striker Roberto Soldado was left out of Spain's squad for Euro 2012 on Sunday, despite his scoring exploits this year, as coach Vicente del Bosque lamented the absence of "irreplaceable" David Villa.

Alvaro Negredo

There were no major surprises as Del Bosque discarded the younger players who have been part of the world and European champions' provisional squad at a training camp in the Austrian Alps.

Instead, he included 19 of the players who went to South Africa and won the World Cup two years ago in his 23-man squad.

Two of the absentees were enforced as Carlos Puyol and David Villa had already been ruled out through injury.

Striker Fernando Torres was among those who retained their places despite his generally unimpressive season with Chelsea, salvaged mainly by his individual goal in the Champions League semi-final away to Barcelona.

Atletico Madrid forward Adrian Lopez was overlooked despite scoring on his debut in the 2-0 win over Serbia on Saturday.

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea also failed to make the cut despite being included in a provisional squad which has been training in Austria.

Soldado scored 17 La Liga goals for Valencia this season, 18 the previous season and hit a hat-trick in a friendly against Venezuela earlier this year in his first international outing for nearly five years.

But it was not enough as Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo, who has five goals in seven internationals, was chosen ahead of him. None of those called up, however, could make up for Villa's absence, said Del Bosque.

"Villa is irreplaceable with his characteristics and effectiveness, nobody has done better than him," Del Bosque, whose side won all eight qualifiers, told reporters.

"We have to look for solutions and we have plenty of them. I have to say, because of all the time he has been with us, that Villa is irreplaceable.

"Negredo and Soldado are extraordinary players, but different. One is quicker but the other brings more to the team as a whole."

Del Bosque gave debuts to five players against Serbia on Saturday but of those, only defender Juanfran made the final cut.

"It's a list we have thought about intensely, we have looked at what's best for us, with respect, and without taking away the merits of those who have been with us and will stay in mind for the future," said Del Bosque.

"There is no special case," he added, of the players who missed out. "It's the same for everyone, Soldado, Adrian and the rest. They may feel upset but they must be good sportsmen.

"In September, we will make more call-ups so they have to be ready for that. In football, you need to bring in new blood, but not make changes for the sake of it."

Spain have had a somewhat awkward preparation for the defence of their European title after the federation decided to stage the King's Cup final last Friday, adding an extra two weeks to the domestic season.

Del Bosque was therefore forced to do without players from finalists Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao as he named a provisional squad to take to Schruns, a postcard village of small chalets, meadows and grazing cows in the Austria Alps.

He praised the young players such as Adrian Lopez, Benat and Ignacio Monreal but said it was not the time to make sweeping changes.

"In the course of four years, we have changed 50 percent of the outfield players," he said. "We changed seven before South Africa and another three now. We have renovated, not out of necessity but because we think its a good thing.

"In football, you need to bring in new blood, but not make changes for the sake of it."

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