Vicente Del Bosque has defended his team’s defensive credentials in the build-up to the European qualifier with Liechtenstein on Tuesday night.
The 60-year-old has seen both his set-up and the players’ abilities questioned in the wake of uncertain performances against Italy and Chile. With both Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique out injured, midfielders Javi Martinez and Sergio Busquets have been tested in defence alongside Raul Albiol and Andoni Iraola, as the team have conceded four goals in two games.
“There is no shortage of defenders, but when we select a player, we like them to be safe, the finished article.
“We know there are many foreign central defenders in the League and, for example, Albiol and [Alvaro] Arbeloa have trouble getting minutes with their team. It is a negative that can also be a positive, because when they come to us they are physically fresher.
“Then, there are the kids [Under-21 level and below] who can join la Seleccion.”
Looking ahead to Tuesday’s game with Liechtenstein that could see La Roja secure automatic qualification to next summer’s Euro 2012 finals at Poland-Ukraine, Del Bosque admitted their place as favourites, but remained cautious:
“I’ve warned the players. Liechtenstein may be technically inferior to us, but they are very organised. They drew in Lithuania [on Friday] and put in a very good performance. We need to be prepared for difficulties.”
The Coach also confirmed that changes will be made, but he refused to be drawn on specific names, with debate particularly centred on whether Fernando Torres or Fernando Llorente will come into attack in place of Alvaro Negredo.
Del Bosque’s defence of his players’ capacity to defend sits in contrast to his criticism of the very same after Friday’s game with Chile: “I have some principles of how I talk about my team to [the media], and I usually do not criticise them. After the match against Chile, yes, I said we were short in defence. I also spoke about it to the players at the hotel, and again on the training pitch, but it is no big deal.”
Spain (4-3-3): Casillas; Ramos, Busquets, Albiol, Arbeloa; Xavi, Alonso, Fabregas; Iniesta, Llorente, Villa
Liechtenstein (4-2-3-1): Jehle; Rechsteiner, Ma. Stocklasa, Oehri, Mi. Stocklasa; Buchel, Wieser; Ritzberger, Hasler, Burgmeier; Frick
Competitive form: Spain last five home W-W-W-W-W
Liechtenstein last five away L-L-L-L-D
Did you know…Liechtenstein have not won away from home in European Championship or World Cup qualifying in seven years, only picking three draws from 18 games in that period too.