Costa rightfully left out in cold as Spain squad intrigues with additions
Vicente del Bosque’s recent Spain squad selection ruffled a few feathers, as La Roja readied their roster ahead of upcoming Euro 2016 clashes against Luxembourg and Ukraine.
Of course, Diego Costa’s omission was the one to hit headlines, but leaving the rather disgraced Brazil-born dangerman on the sidelines is arguably a smart and savvy decision.
Including Costa, currently suspended for parent club Chelsea after provoking Arsenal players and also banned for the first battle with Luxembourg after picking up a booking last time out, would certainly have sent out a strange disciplinary message.
Del Bosque told press of his decision not to pick Costa: “I did not like what happened in the Premier League, I don’t think it was edifying.”
“He can’t play the first match and we preferred not to bring him. He is not playing badly, we’ll select him in the future if everything goes normally.”
It cannot have been the easiest choice to leave the usually lethal hitman at home, especially as Costa’s strength and bullish style could come in handy away to Ukraine.
Though, sinking cannon-fodder Luxembourg on Spanish soil is the result that can first confirm La Roja’s spot in the France finals, and Del Bosque has selected a star-studded call-sheet of fit and able players more than capable of securing that.
Juventus striking starlet Alvaro Morata, whose intelligence and sleek movement should suit Spain far better in the future compared to Costa’s more direct approach, could be the main beneficiary.
Both have similar stats for this season so far, with two club goals grabbed apiece across all competitions, highlighting rather slow starts. Yet, Real Madrid academy graduate Morata has one Spain strike in five caps, with a brilliant 13 in as many Under-21 matches, while Costa has managed just the same senior haul in seven.
Looking far from at home in Spanish colours thus far, this suspension allows Del Bosque to experiment with other options, in what has recently looked a problem position.
In fact, the World Cup and European Championship-winning tactician’s selections look refreshingly based on form, with nimble wide forward Nolito drafted in to potentially collect a third cap aged 28, after deadly performances for Celta Vigo have seen the Spaniard clock-up five goals and three assists in seven Liga games.
In midfield, Catalan schemer Cesc Fabregas will be aiming to reach a century of caps, as he currently rests on 98 outings, though poor form could perhaps see the conductor take a backseat. Andres Iniesta’s injury has allowed for space in usually the most congested of positions, with Villarreal’s impressive Bruno Soriano also called-up for duty.
Though it is Bayern Munich midfield menace Thiago Alcantara’s return to the fold which could be the most eye-catching, as the Italy-born 24-year-old talent has finally established himself at the creative hub of Pep Guardiola’s Allianz Arena outfit, following a spate of ill-timed injuries.
With three assists in six Champions League games, now is the time for Thiago to threaten the thrones of Spain’s playmaking kings.
Elsewhere, Inigo Martinez has earned his inclusion after impressive defensive performances for David Moyes’ Real Sociedad. The Basque Country club have hardly set La Liga alight, but have conceded just once in the five games centre back Martinez has started, leaking four in his absence.
So, Spain could secure their place at Euro 2016 (where they are 6/1 to retain the title), with spades of talented fringe players seeking to topple the established order. With such potential potency in the ranks, Costa may want to think twice before seeing red in again.
Spain’s full squad for Euro 2016 qualifiers
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Porto), David de Gea (Manchester United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla)
Defenders: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Marc Bartra (Barcelona), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad)
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), David Silva (Manchester City), Isco (Real Madrid), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Bruno Soriano (Villarreal), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Juan Mata (Manchester United)
Forwards: Pedro (Chelsea), Paco Alcacer (Valencia), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Nolito (Celta Vigo)