David Villa and Barcelona suffered a major setback at the Club World Cup in Japan this week when the striker suffered a broken leg that can keep him out of action for a minimum of five months. Although the striker is expected to recover before Euro 2012, but doubts will still remain regarding his match fitness.
Any injury is sad, but this one can prove to be a blessing in disguise for the other Spanish strikers who now have to force themselves into Vincent Del Bosque’s reckoning for a starting place at the Euros. Before Fernando Torres’ woeful loss of form, the front of Spain’s 4-4-1-1 would usually be made up of Villa and Torres. However, because of Torres’ failure to recapture his goalscoring mojo, Del Bosque has made changes to his plans by moving Villa in the middle, flanked by two attacking midfielders or wingers. Now with David Villa seemingly out of the equation, the central striking position is up for grabs. Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente, Roberto Soldado and Pedro are the players who will be licking their lips at this chance.
Amongst the four names mentioned above, Fernando Torres remains the most high profile name and will probably make the cut, but seriously needs to start putting in more effort to get over his lack of confidence. The Chelsea striker has struggled to get going at Stamford Bridge since his mega money move from Liverpool, and has now fallen down the pecking order under Didier Drogba. If Torres wants the starting spot at the Euros he needs to make the most of the chances that come his way at Chelsea.
Fernando Llorente is not a player in the typical Spanish tiki-taka mould, but adds a different sort of attacking threat to Spain’s play when “Plan A” fails. Llorente is more like a typical English centre forward, able to bully the defenders with his height and strength advantage. The Athletic Bilbao striker will definitely be on the flight to Polkraine, but is more likely to appear as a substitute rather than a starter.
Roberto Soldado has been banging in the goals this season at Valencia, but has failed to reproduce that form at the international level whenever he has had the chances. If Del Bosque picks players based on form, Soldado has to be the first player on the list. Meanwhile, Pedro has also been going on quietly at Barcelona. He has seen his playing time reduced due to the arrivals of Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas. Pedro would certainly like to have that changed if he wants to go to the Euros and is certainly a handy option to have because of his work rate and technical ability.
All these players will probably make the cut along with David Villa himself, but have a mountain to climb if they want to nail down the starting berth at the Euros. If Villa regains his fitness and form before the tournament, their chances get reduced considerably, but his injury has also opened a window of hope that they will exploit to the maximum.