When Spain beat Scotland 3-1 last month, David Silva found himself in new territory. Manchester City's player of the season so far was not just on the pitch – something that had not happened for the national side for so long he had taken to publicly complaining about it – he was playing centrally in that withdrawn or "false" No 9 position Pep Guardiola has made Lionel Messi's very own at Barcelona.
Playing between two wide forwards – Pedro and David Villa – just as Messi does for Barça, Silva proved even more elusive for Scottish defenders than he has been this season for Premier League rearguards and scored twice in Alicante. It was another step towards the Spanish national team becoming an international version of Barcelona.
Just when the rest of Europe might start to believe Spain can get no better after two tournament wins in three years, the world and European champions copy the club side that has won 12 trophies in the last three seasons in an attempt to take their own levels of excellence even higher.
Spain and Barcelona have always played the same style of quick passing football and no one at Barça would argue the success of Luis Aragones' team in 2008 came from imitating them.
However, the national side has come to rely increasingly on Barcelona personnel. Only three Barça players were in the starting XI that won the European Championship but there were eight in the side that started the World Cup final in South Africa last year.
The latest squad has eight Barcelona players in it and would have 10 if Pedro were not injured and Thiago Alcantara had not been sent back to help the Under-21s. Full-backs apart, Barcelona could now comfortably provide Vicente del Bosque with his entire first team.
For such a pragmatic coach, it is only logical that his team begins to mirror that of the all-conquering La Liga champions. But having preferred to play with two holding midfielders and three further forward in South Africa, Del Bosque finds it increasingly impossible to fit the available talents into that system.
Who do you leave out from Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Silva and Pedro? Not to mention Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla. Silva and Fabregas are the two that he must find a place for, with the Manchester City schemer in superb form and Fabregas having scored a goal every 120 minutes since joining Barcelona.
Now the temptation for Del Bosque is to line up Silva and Fabregas in the national side in the same way the former Arsenal captain teams up with Messi domestically. That spells bad news for Fernando Torres, as the traditional centre-forward becomes at best an option from the bench and at worst a discontinued line.
Whatever course Del Bosque takes in Spain's three remaining friendlies before naming his squad for next summer's tournament, the finest talents football has to offer at both club and country level are increasingly coming together.Reuse content