Del Bosque goes with youth after World Cup fiasco
MADRID (AP) — Vicente del Bosque unveiled a rejuvenated Spain squad on Friday after the debacle at this summer’s World Cup and the retirement of three key players from the team’s most successful era.
While stalwarts Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso and David Villa retired from international competition after Spain flopped in its world title defense, Del Bosque has also dropped mainstays Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina and Juan Mata.
The Spain coach named a squad that features four new faces for next Thursday’s friendly in France and Spain’s opening 2016 European Championship qualifier against Macedonia on Sept. 8.
“This is a squad for the present but designed looking toward the future,” Del Bosque said. “This is a special list given recent events. It comes after our poor showing at the World Cup, and we have to look ahead.”
Atletico midfielder Raul Garcia, Valencia striker Pablo Alcacer, Athletic Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose and Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla all got their first calls.
Del Bosque also included Chelsea striker Diego Costa despite what the manager says is only a “knock” he had received in practice with his new club.
Spain won the 2010 World Cup and the European championship in 2008 and 2012. But the same core of players was overrun by the Netherlands and Chile in stinging losses to open this summer’s World Cup.
Del Bosque described Spain’s’ failure to advance to the knockout rounds in Brazil as “a debacle, a disaster,” but he said that it had not left any lasting damage inside the team and would not alter his commitment to Spain’s possession-based playing style.
A total of eight players from Spain’s World Cup squad were absent from the list.
Gerard Pique and Javi Martinez were unavailable because of injury.
Real Madrid right back Dani Carvajal and Bilbao holding midfielder Andre Iturraspe also made the squad. Both players have been called up by Del Bosque before but neither has debuted.
Spain now turns to rebuilding in the hopes it can defend its European title in 2016. Along with Macedonia in Group C, Spain will face Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, and Luxembourg.
“We have two difficult games ahead,” said Del Bosque. “First we have France and then we want to start qualifying on a good foot against Macedonia.”
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), David de Gea (Manchester United), Kiko Casilla (Espanyol)
Defenders: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao) Marca Bartra (Barcelona)
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Raul Garcia (Atletico Madrid), David Silva (Manchester City), Francisco “Isco” Alarcon (Real Madrid), Ander Iturraspe (Athletic)
Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Paco Alcacer (Valencia)