Spain vs Chile: Vicente Del Bosque ponders most important team selection of his career
Chelsea players at the heart of manager's quandary
Wednesday 18 June 2014
In an ultra-serious press conference, where Spain were intent on asserting their optimism ahead of the fixture with Chile, it was the one light-hearted moment.
Vicente Del Bosque was asked whether the fact Fernando Torres spoke to the media meant he has been told he is in the team.
“You’ll have to ask the press officer about why he was put up,” the Spanish manager responded. “She doesn’t know the line-up.”
It’s fair to say that line-up is probably the most focused-upon in the World Cup so far, not least for its potential consequences. A wrong decision could lead to a remarkable failure: the defending champions falling at the group stage.
The deeper problem for Spain, of course, is that they do not just have to win this game. They may have to win it well, especially given the troubling goal difference situation following the dismal defeat to the Netherlands.
So, while Del Bosque’s decision on Xavi may reshape Spain’s midfield, and the player who loses out to Javi Martinez may restructure the defence, it is whoever fills the forward’s role that perhaps carries the greatest weight. They need that player to finally offer an acceptable goal return. The position has become one of the most-discussed in international football, but also carries a lot of Premier League interest. Or, rather, a lot of interest from Chelsea.
Diego Costa only exacerbated that debate with a poor display against the Dutch in which he did not look fully fit, but it remains to be seen whether Del Bosque will so quickly drop him after going to such trouble to bring him in. There have been two suggestions, however, from the Spanish camp. One is that Costa will be replaced by the man he likely relegates at Stamford Bridge, Fernando Torres. The other is that both could be overlooked for their newest teammate, Cesc Fabregas.
Chelsea offer Spain a few options. They need a few goals. Only then can they properly smile again.
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