El Centrocampista

ALL WHITE FOR LA FURIA ROJA – How Del Bosque’s Euro squad could have a Valencian feel to it

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A familiar figure was sat in the stands of the Vicente Calderon on Sunday as Valencia took on Atletico Madrid in a clash between two teams with similar Champions League aspirations.

National team coach Vicente del Bosque, who once guided Atleti’s neighbours Real Madrid to a La Liga and Champions League double, was back in town ready to cast an eye over the potential candidates as he begins to finalize his plans for this summer’s European Championship tournament.

Del Bosque has a wealth of talent to pick for his Spanish squad and there was plenty on show in this game alone, for Atleti Juanfran, Gabi and Adrian started before being joined by Alvaro Dominguez and Koke. Valencia began with Victor Ruiz, Jordi Alba, David Albelda, Pablo Hernandez, Roberto Soldado, Aduriz and Bernat later joined them.

Of those Spaniards who played in the 0-0 bore draw, Valencia’s Ruiz, Alba and Soldado are the ones who Del Bosque will most likely be considering for his teams final friendly against Venezuela before this year’s European Championship. The three positions they occupy are the three that could be up for grabs.

The left back spot is one that is certainly available given former 34 year old stalwart Joan Capdevilla has not featured for Spain since his move from Villarreal to Benfica last summer.

Sevilla’s Fernando Navarro and Liverpool’s Jose Enrique will remain in consideration but it looks like a straight shootout between Jordi Alba and Nacho Monreal. Both have received caps in the run down towards the tournament and whoever gets the most minutes against Venezuela will likely become first choice with Alvaro Arbeloa providing comprehensive and experienced cover for both fullback positions.

The centre back position is one that has become complicated by Sergio Ramos’ fantastic form when moving to the middle for Real Madrid. Again due to age, a place on the bench may be vacant, Carlos Marchena who possesses the international record for most games played without a defeat may lose his place with Victor Ruiz and Alvaro Dominguez both regular starters for Valencia and Atleti. Dominguez though, may have the edge over Ruiz as he has previously been called up to the national team.

The position as a striker is the one that has gained the most media attention, David Villa whose goal scoring form for the national side has been nothing short of incredible is out with a broken leg, and faces a tough task to return for the start of the tournament, his counterpart Fernando Torres, hasn’t scored for Chelsea since last October and doesn’t look like he’ll pick up on his previous form any time soon.

The third striker who features in nearly every Spain squad is the other Fernando, Athletic Bilbao’s Llorente who has a fantastic return of 18 goals in all competitions this season, the only other Spaniard playing today who has more goals than him was on display last weekend, Roberto Soldado was hoping to impress but remained largely anonymous as the scoreless draw was played out.

However with 20 goals in all competitions Soldado has been one of the most prolific strikers in Europe and it seems that everyone sees him as the obvious choice except from Del Bosque who is yet to reward him with a cap despite his incredible form.

Valencia had a big say in Spain winning their last two trophies and their first in over four decades, with four of their players in each squad making a big impact on the teams winning runs, since their inevitable sales over the last two summers that number quickly dropped to zero, but there is every chance it will increase again this year.

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