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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 4 hours ago
Read
Feb 24, 2012

Torres dropped by Spain

Fernando Torres has been dropped from the Spain squad for next week's friendly against Venezuela.

• Torres: I have to improve

The Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup-winning striker has been struggling for form at Chelsea, netting just four times in all competitions this season.

With Barcelona forward David Villa still absent with a broken leg, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has opted to include Valencia hitman Roberto Soldado and highly-rated Athletic Bilbao youngster Iker Muniain in his 24-man squad for Wednesday's match in Malaga. Barcelona winger Pedro Rodriguez was also left out, along with Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol.

However, Del Bosque insisted the door is still open for his stars to make the final cut for Euro 2012.

''Some of the usual inclusions are missing," he said. "The three of them are world champions. Albiol isn't playing much, Torres and Pedro's performances have been a bit inconsistent and we have to reward the players who are doing well.

''It is not a definitive list, there are three or four months to go and we are limited to how many we can bring in.''

Torres is joint fourth on Spain's all-time record goalscoring list with 27 but has netted just once in the last 18 months for his country.

When asked if he had spoken with Torres, Del Bosque said at a press conference: ''I haven't spoken with anybody. Nobody knows the list beforehand. I'm not saying he's not a special and charismatic player, who has been called up many times. He's a lad who we hold in high regard and appreciate a lot.

''Now his performances have been a little inconsistent and we've decided not to call him up, but this doesn't mean he isn't going to come to the European Championships. It hurts me to leave him out but I have to be fair to the players who have been pushing hard. It's very difficult to get into the national team, and it's also difficult to fulfil everyone's wishes.''

Del Bosque also hopes to see a positive response from the former Atletico Madrid striker, saying: ''He shouldn't take it as something negative, he needs to take it as a stimulus. Football is about being continually alive, and the group always has to be alive to compete at the highest level. It's not an absolutely definitive decision. It's a base list but it's not definitive for the Euros.''

Soldado, whose last appearance for Spain came in 2007, said in AS: ''I hope I don't have to wait another five years.

''I've progressed a lot as a player since that time and I hope that with this opportunity I can show what I can do. I want to score goals and hope I can get in the final list (for Euro 2012).''

Spain squad for friendly: Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Jose Manuel Reina (Liverpool), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid); Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Andoni Iraola (Athletic Bilbao), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Valencia); Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Xavi (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Malaga), Thiago Alcantara (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Jesus Navas (Sevilla); Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Roberto Soldado (Valencia).

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