El Centrocampista

TIME FOR A CHANGE? – Del Bosque’s left-back dilemma

By Olly Dawes

There is one position in the Spanish national side that has been receiving more attention than all the others put together in recent weeks.

It is new territory for a side that has almost picked itself for the best part of four years and one that is surrounding by ambiguity.

The position of left-back is in the headlines.

The role of the left-sided fullback  is one that doesn’t get much recognition in the Spain, but it has become a topic of discussion over the summer.

The first choice left back at the 2010 World Cup was Joan Capdevila. Most followers of Spanish football will agree that Capdevila is a good player and deserved his place in the team.

But once Euro 2012 kicks off, Capdevila will be 34. There have been calls for a change, to make sure the new man in the side has time to become accustomed with his team mates.

Now, some may say ‘well Capdevila is the same age as Puyol, should they drop Puyol too?’ – there is one huge difference. Capdevila decided to leave Villarreal in the summer and move over to Portugal to play for giants Benfica.

It was seen as a move which would enable Capdevila to start games regularly in the Portuguese capital, but instead the manager, Jorge Jesus, has left Capdevila out of his Champions League squad and has told the full back that he won’t play for them.

Capdevila is hurt and upset by this, and his agent has started to sound out teams to take the former Deportivo player away from Lisbon, with teams like Juventus and Napoli mentioned as possible destinations.

It is key for Capdevila to make one last push at convincing Del Bosque he can still perform at the highest level. Whereas Puyol would be a shoe-in for Barcelona whilst fit, Capdevila could find himself watching from the sidelines – then Del Bosque will be forced to look elsewhere.

So who could be in contention to take the left back role?

The most interesting suggestion is that of Liverpool full back Jose Enrique.

Just two years ago, Enrique was playing in the Championship for Newcastle United. A string of fine performances upon Newcastle’s promotion means that he’s secured a move to Liverpool, where he is again impressing.

Enrique has never been capped by the national team, but with the position causing some problems, he may just have hit form at the right time.

The 25 year old former Villarreal defender has said: “When I signed here I wanted to play Champions League football with this club and also to try and go to the national team.

“If I go I’ll be happy but for me the national team is an extra. It’s important but for me it’s my club first.”

Del Bosque has recently used Real Madrid right back Alvaro Arbeloa on the left, whilst another Madrid based player, Atletico’s Alvaro Dominguez has also been used there, despite being a centre back by nature.

Another player who will be hopeful of boarding the plane to Poland and Ukraine is the impressive former Osasuna and current Malaga left back Nacho Monreal, but despite his €6 million switch to La Rosaleda, manager Manuel Pellegrini has yet to start him, instead playing Portuguese winger Eliseu out of position in a bizarre move.

Del Bosque will almost certainly want to start with players who are playing regularly for their clubs. This being the case, the initiative is handed to the uncapped Enrique. Enrique is a player that could easily slot into the Spanish system; he has a cultured left foot, gets up and down the pitch well but is also very capable defensively.

Spain have already named their squad for the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Scotland, and Del Bosque has decided to hand Valencia full back Jordi Alba a chance to stake his claim as Spain have already qualified – but there is no sign of Jose Enrique.

Competition for places is rife and Del Bosque will feel his squad should be looking to retain their title. But he has a huge decision to make at left back.




Check out all the fixtures for La Liga in the Spanish section of footballscores.com/, the new football resource site with all the latest information including results and live betting odds around the world.



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