Spanish squad almost complete, says del Bosque
“We are prepared and nearly ready for the World Cup. We have the provisional squad of 30 players done and are working on narrowing it down to 23,”he said. “Our worry now is how the injuries progress. There are three cases to keep tabs on – (Fernando) Torres, (Andres) Iniesta and (Cesc) Fabregas. We will see how they progress and then will make our decision.”
Del Bosque revealed that much of the team would be hold-overs from the Euro 2008 championship squad: “The foundation of the team is already in place, we all know that,” he said. “Within that group, (Gerard) Pique and (Sergi) Busquets have quickly made niches for themselves.”
There are other youngsters that could yet receive opportunities, such as Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper David De Gea. He added: “De Gea is not discounted by any means. He has shown a lot and improved. He is tall, agile, co-ordinated, and is much like (Edwin) Van der Sar with his legs.”
Barcelona’s goalkeeper, Victor Valdes, also received Del Bosque’s praise: “He has had a few seasons now playing at a very high level. He has conceded the fewest goals for a number of years and has been an important contributor to Barca’s recent titles. He certainly cannot be ruled out,” he noted.
Del Bosque has already publicly declared that Iker Casillas is Spain’s undisputed number one keeper while Pepe Reina is his backup. Spain has three players over the 30-year-old mark in Joan Capdevila, Marcos Senna and Carles Puyol and the coach highlighted the need to look for players to begin to fill those positions in the future.
Some of the favourites mentioned in the press recently are Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martinez, Atletico Madrid’s Alvaro Dominguez and Espanyol’s Victor Ruiz. There are also some players that have all but lost their opportunities at a World Cup berth. One is Albert Riera, who Del Bosque qualifies as a “very useful player that brings a number of distinct qualities,” but whose prolonged period of inactivity has nearly certainly ruled out of this summer’s squad.
For the coach, strategy is a crucial element of the World Cup. He remarked: “There are (in the best case scenario) only seven matches and one has to be prepared to field a number of defensive and offensive mechanisms.
“Dead ball situations are always important, but even more so in competitions where the teams are very even in terms of physical ability, technique and tactics. We have to take care.”
Finally, in terms of his forecast for the knockout stages and beyond, Del Bosque believes it will comprise of the usual suspects, saying: “The big national teams of tradition will be there, like England, Brazil, Argentina and Germany. But I do not want to get into possible match-ups because the first thing we must do is progress through the group stage.
“Switzerland, Honduras and Chile will not be easy. The teams from Africa will also be very difficult to beat and they will play very well on their own continent.”