Victor Valdes to start in goal vs. Nigeria
FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Victor Valdes will start in goal for World Cup champion Spain against Nigeria on Sunday, the third new goalkeeper coach Vicente del Bosque will have used in three matches in the Confederations Cup.
Del Bosque showed his team’s depth by changing 10 of his 11 starters in a lopsided 10-0 victory over Tahiti in the last match.
“We will have a change in goal and go with Victor Valdes,” Del Bosque said Saturday. “The others will be mostly the ones we used the first day. It is an advantage to be able to pick among so many good players.”
Del Bosque said the schedule at the Confederations Cup has guaranteed that everyone gets some rest — and playing time. Iker Casillas started in goal for Spain in a 2-1 victory over Uruguay, with Pepe Reina facing Tahiti.
Spain will advance to the semifinals with at least a draw against Nigeria set a meeting with Italy.
“All the players have been able to play their share, and we have been able to manage our time and no player is overworked,” Del Bosque said.
Del Bosque has a unique problem: trying to handle the egos of 23 players, most of whom are starters — and stars — on club teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid.
“It might be the hardest part of the job, and it can hurt at times keeping players like this on the bench,” Del Bosque said early in the tournament.
Reina is a perfect example. He’s been the starting keeper at Liverpool for eight seasons, but on Spain’s national team he’s only No. 3 behind Real Madrid’s Casillas and Barcelona’s Valdes.
Reina got the call against tiny Tahiti and, in truth, had little to do.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of being a starting player or not on your club,” Reina said. “All of us are starters on our clubs, but here we know we have 23 players of equal talent. Those who don’t play have to remain positive and support the rest.”
Forward David Villa is another case. He’s very talented, but has the same problem at Barcelona — and on Spain’s national side.
“Spain can be proud to have such a strong team with 23 players, but some have to stay on the bench. The coach is the one to make these decisions.”
Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama expects Brazil’s crowd to support his club — not Spain — with Spain and Brazil favored to meet in the final on June 30 at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
Nigeria defeated Tahiti 6-1 in its opener and lost 2-1 to Uruguay.
“We cross our fingers the whole stadium will be for us,” he said.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said playing Spain will be “a good lesson for my players, and a good lesson for me too.”
Enyeama, who has played in two World Cups, talked up being ready for the challenge.
“We are not afraid of Spain, we respect them,” he said. “They are a great side. But we have to represent our color and stand for it.”
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