The left-back lottery: Jordi Alba the latest contender to fill problem position for Spain


With Spain’s qualification for Euro 2012 secured, Coach Vicente Del Bosque has taken the opportunity against Czech Republic and Scotland to experiment at left-back. As veteran Joan Capdevila warms the bench at Benfica, the Coach has called up Valencia youngster Jordi Alba in his place.

Alba is the latest in a long line of players called up to La Roja to try to fill the left-back position, often cited as a problem area for the team. In the last decade, Spanish Coaches have tried 18 players at left-back and amongst those only Capdevila can be considered a long-term success.

The relative scarcity of left-backs was in stark contrast to other areas of the park. Spain could rely on stalwarts such as Carles Puyol and Sergio Ramos elsewhere along the back-line, have had an abundance of outstanding midfielders and enjoyed a range of options in attack in recent years. However, in the Primera Division, it is foreigners such as Eric Abidal, Marcelo, Fabio Coentrao and Filipe Luis who receive the greatest acclaim for their left full-back roles.

Crucially, as he nurtures his plans for Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup, Del Bosque has evidently decided to phase out Capdevila. Whilst at 33 the former Villarreal player’s surging runs up the left flank are not as frequent as they used to be, it is the player’s predicament that looks to have accelerated plans.

Since leaving El Madrigal in the summer, he has failed to establish himself in Portugal and is likely to seek a move in the January transfer window. Moreover, his Coach Jorge Jesus publicly confirmed his status as a reserve – “Capdevila only plays when Emerson is not available” – and did not select him for Benfica’s Champions League group stage squad.

In Capdevila’s place arrives a new generation of left-backs that Del Bosque could perhaps call upon in years to come. Liverpool’s Jos

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