Friday, May 21, 2010

World Cup Preview: Spain

Here in the UK, Spain's chances are considered to be greatly hampered by the injuries to Torres and Fabregas, but in reality they still have an extremely strong team and should feature heavily in most fantasy conversations. Fabregas was, and is, likely to take the number 12 shirt ie being a very gifted substitute. Not much has changed since Euro 2008 when Cesc only started in the third group game (after Spain had already qualified) and then the final. He has played in more qualifiers lately but Xavi, Iniesta, Silva and company is far from a bad bunch so I am not sweating Cesc's absence despite my full blown man crush.

Torres however is a different story as the Liverpool hitman started every game of the Euro champs (aside from the meaningless 3rd group game) and has featured in most games during the qualifying period. In the 23 man squad, there is only real Fernando Llorente who would be identifiable as a 'striker' to partner Villa with the other forwards being more support men or even wide men such as Jesus Navas, Juan Mata and Pedro. I am therefore concerned by the injury as I don't like it when a team has to change it's shape due to the loss of one player.

Anyway, enough of the negatives and on to which players I do like:

Iker Casillas
I would normally focus my defensive pick on an attacking wing back or a goal scoring centre back but I don't really like any of the Spain defenders to provide too much going forward. Therefore I am backing Casillas given Spain's excellent defensive record in the qualifiers (5 conceded in 10 games). Spain's opponents were all fairly free scoring in the qualifiers (averaging 1.7 - 1.8 GPG) but I still back Casillas and co to notch at least one clean sheet with the potential for shut outs in all three games.

David Silva
Silva had an impressive Euro '08 which put him in the shop window for some of the major clubs in Europe's, but I think this is the tournament where he explodes and announces himself as truly world class. Silva scored 8 and assisted 9 in La Liga this season and it seems that Real are knocking at the door to bring him to Bernabeu. Either way, glass-half-full fantasy players can find good in the situation as he will either be settled before the tournament or playing for a major pay day in the near future. Torres' injury could be a boost too as Spain could play a kind of 4-3-2-1 with Silva and another playing off of Villa.

David Villa
Who else could you pick here. I actually rate Torres in terms of pure footballing talent a bit higher but with the Liverpool forward a massive injury risk along with Villa's form and settled future I like Villa's place as early golden boot favourite. Spain should progress to at least the semi final and with such incredible talent supplying the passes, no one is better placed than Villa to score plenty of goals this summer.

Possible First Team
  1. Iker Casillas
  2. Sergio Ramos
  3. Joan Capdevila
  4. Raul Albiol
  5. Carlos Puyol
  6. Senna
  7. Juan Mata
  8. Andres Iniesta
  9. Xavi
  10. David Silva
  11. David Villa
This of course is assuming that Torres and Fabregas miss out. If all fit I would insert Torres in place of Mata and Fabregas would likely platoon with Iniesta, who has been in so-so form for Barcelona.

I have backed Spain to win every tournament since France '98 so I am probably not the most objective of bloggers. However, their talent level is unarguable as shown by the lineup above, minus two of the top 5 players in the EPL. The run to the final will be tricky as Spain will likely face Portugal or (my pick) Cote D'Ivoire in the last 16 and then if all falls according to form, Italy in the quarters. The good news is that if they win their group they will avoid Brazil who some fancy as contenders and Netherlands, who I rate highly this year. Expect to see them in the final when I release my final predictions before the tournament.


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Steven said...

Yes I'm still reading this ! I'm clinging onto Villa in the WC. He seems much more reliable health wise and in general, scores more goals then Torres in international caps.