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Feb 21, 2014

Puyol facing uphill battle for Spain spot

Spain assistant coach Toni Grande has revealed that Carles Puyol is unlikely to win a place in Vicente del Bosque’s World Cup squad.  

• World Cup Daily: Feb. 21
• Negredo eyes starting spot

Puyol was a key man as Spain won the trophy in 2010 in South Africa, leading a defence which went through all four knockout games without conceding a goal and also heading the crucial winner in the semifinal against Germany.

Carles Puyol heads home the winning goal for Spain against Germany at the 2010 World Cup
Carles Puyol scored the winning goal for Spain against Germany in the 2010 World Cup semifinal.

However the Barcelona defender, now 35, has been dogged by a knee injury over recent years and although now fit again is not a regular starter for his club.

La Roja assistant Grande admitted that Puyol’s chances of going to Brazil were fading, telling Marca: “We have not yet ruled him out, but logically he would need to play a lot more, and be more in the thick of the games.

"There are still three months until the world cup, but it is difficult for him.”

At the other end of his career is Real Madrid’s emerging attacker Jese, whose superb form in recent weeks for his club has brought a clamour in the Spanish media for a senior international call-up.

Del Bosque told Marca that he was monitoring the 20-year-old’s progress, as well as many other players who could still make the final 23 for the tournament.

“[Jese] is in that group who could potentially come with us,” he said. “We must be careful in Jese’s case, and with many other players. We still have three months until the tournament starts. There is time to weigh it up. There are 16 or 17 players who find themselves in a similar situation, who I could recite from memory. We will see how it goes.”

Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara was another who may or may not get the call this year, according to Del Bosque.

“[Thiago] is a kid who is getting many more minutes at a big club like Bayern,” the Spain coach said. “He is the future, but it is clear that he is one of the more than 40 players we are looking at.”

The veteran coach did however suggest that Diego Costa, who switched allegiance from Brazil to Spain last autumn but has not yet played for his adopted country, was still very much in his thoughts for the tournament.

“If [Costa] comes, he is a kid with character, who moves a lot up front, who makes things uncomfortable for opponents, who never gives up any ball for lost, who is dominant in the air, who has pace…,” Del Bosque said.

“He has a lot of qualities, but as of today he has not yet come with the national team.”

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