Spain vs. Venezuela  5 - 0

Article

Del Bosque keeps lid on Soldado exploits

1 March 2012 13:15

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque is eager to keep Roberto Soldado's feet on the ground after his hat-trick against Venezuela on Wednesday.

Del Bosque also resisted the temptation to claim that Soldado had vindicated his call-up ahead of Fernando Torres.

The forward has effectively taken Torres' place in Del Bosque's squad and the Valencia striker made the most of his international recall by netting three times during the second half of their 5-0 win at La Rosaleda.

However, when pressed on the contrast between Soldado's performance and Torres' recent outings for the national team, Del Bosque replied: "It would be unfair to go into pointless comparisons."

"Soldado was very good. He finished off what his team-mates created."

"But everyone's performance will be assessed and those who show they are in good condition will go to the Euros."

"The first half was one game and the second half another. These goals (for Soldado) do not mean that we neglect the work of others."

"In praising Soldado we must emphasise the works of (Santi) Cazorla, (Jesus) Navas and Jordi Alba at a time when the game was much more comfortable."

Del Bosque, though, is predicting a long and illustrious career at international level for Athletic Bilbao's teenage forward Iker Muniain, who replaced Cesc Fabregas with 15 minutes remaining.

"I told him before he went on to do what he does for his club: to get involved and to move a lot," he said.

"He is a kid who has played confidently and without fear. At 19, he has a terrific future ahead of him."

Spain are in the same group as Italy, Republic of Ireland and Croatia at Euro 2012.

Article

International friendly: Spain 5 Venezuela 0

29 February 2012 23:57

Spain ran out comprehensive 5-0 winners over Venezuela in their international friendly in Malaga on Wednesday.

Roberto Soldado marked his first appearance for Spain since 2007 with a clinical hat-trick, while David Silva and Andres Iniesta were also on the scoresheet as the home side dominated their less illustrious opponents.

Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas was forced into making an early save from Venezuela's Solomon Rondon, after the striker hit an instinctive shot towards goal from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Iniesta very nearly gave the home side the lead in the 17th after latching on to an incisive ball from Cesc Fabregas and striking a firm effort goalwards. However goalkeeper Dani was a match for the strike and did well to parry the ball to safety.

A swerving effort from Silva gave Dani more problems after 30 minutes, with the keeper perhaps fortunate on this occasion to see the shot flick over the crossbar after the ball had cannoned off his shoulder.

The breakthrough came in the 37th minute courtesy of a neat finish from the edge of the box by Iniesta, after he was found in space by a slick pass from his Barcelona team-mate Fabregas.

Silva added a second for the home side just minutes later with a crisp strike from 20 yards after Fabregas had set him up with a nonchalant back-heel.

Much of the talk before the game surrounded Roberto Soldado's inclusion in Vicente Del Bosque's squad following his scintillating form for Valencia this season, and it took the striker just five minutes to leave his mark on the game.

After being introduced at half-time, Soldado scored Spain's third of the evening on 50 minutes, turning in Santi Cazorla's cross after some sumptuous build-up play on the edge of the Venezuela penalty area had set the Malaga playmaker free inside the box.

Soldado seemed intent on marking his reintroduction to the Spain setup in style and grabbed another goal just two minutes later, with a confident finish from close range after an inch perfect cross from the right-hand side by Alvaro Arbeloa.

To make matters worse for the away side, they were then reduced to 10 men when Fernando Amorebieta was given a red card for hauling Soldado down inside the penalty area, providing Soldado with the opportunity to seal a fairytale hat-trick with a goal from the spot.

Soldado's spot-kick was weak however, with Dani diving low to his right to divert it to safety, much to the striker's despair.

He did not have to wait long for his hat-trick though, scoring the final goal of the game from close range after fine work down the left from his Valencia team-mate Jordi Alba set up the chance.

Article

Negredo to miss Venezuela friendly

28 February 2012 13:31

Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo has been ruled out of Spain's friendly with Venezuela after suffering a thigh injury.

Negredo could miss up to a month of football, but he will have plenty of time to throw his name in the ring the Spain squad ahead of Euro 2012.

According to the Spanish Football Federation, the injury-prone striker underwent scans which showed a tear in the left thigh muscle.

Negredo has not appeared for the national team since September.

The withdrawal leaves manager Vicente Del Bosque light on striking options with Fernando Llorente and Roberto Soldado the only strikers remaining in the squad.

Article

International friendly preview: Spain v Venezuela

27 February 2012 16:56

Fernando Llorente is the favourite to start up front for Spain against Venezuela in Malaga on Wednesday with Fernando Torres left out.

The tall striker from Athletic Bilbao has scored 13 goals this season and was part of Spain's success at the 2010 World Cup - unlike the other two forwards in Vincente Del Bosque's squad, Valencia's Roberto Soldado and Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo.

With Barcelona's David Villa still absent with his broken leg, Wednesday's friendly is a big chance for Spain's new crop of strikers to secure a spot for this year's European Championships, especially with Torres in such poor form for Chelsea.

Del Bosque has seemingly picked a squad with an eye on the future, with six players under 24 years of age, including Llorente's club team-mate, 19-year-old Iker Muniain, who will make his debut for the senior national team if he plays on Wednesday.

Bilbao, who sit fifth in Spain's La Liga, have the most players selected outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Apart from Llorente and Muniain, defender Andoni Iraola and midfielder Javi Martinez will also travel to Malaga for the match against Venezuela, which will be Spain's last game before Del Bosque picks his squad for the European Championships.

Venezuela are not expected to provide too much of a challenge for the reigning World and European champions, having lost their last three international matches against Mexico, USA and Costa Rica.

Juan Arango, who has been crucial in Borussia Moenchengladbach's run to third in the German Bundesliga, is the key to Venezuela's hopes.

The 31-year-old midfielder has played 23 matches for Moenchengladbach this season, scoring five goals and setting up nine, and he will play his 104th game for his country on Wednesday if, as expected, he is selected.

Venezuela's manager Cesar Farias has selected a young and inexperienced squad to take on Spain, with an average age of just over 25 and 11 players with less than 10 appearances for the national team.

Article

Torres misses out on Spain place

24 February 2012 19:36

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres has been dropped by Spain coach Vicente del Bosque for Wednesday's friendly against Venezuela in Malaga.

Torres, 27, has struggled badly for form since joining Chelsea from Liverpool in January 2011.

He scored two goals during Spain's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, and Del Bosque explained that the former Atletico Madrid man needs to improve his game.

"This is a break for him, no doubt, but it should serve as encouragement," Del Bosque told reporters.

"At the moment, as I have already said, he's been a little bit inconsistent in his performances, and we thought it was not convenient to bring him."

"I don't want anyone to think that he won't be in the Euro squad because of this."

"We still have three months and he's very appreciated here and I consider him in the highest form as a footballer and as a person."

"It's difficult for me not to call him but I have to be fair to the other players that have made huge efforts to be here."

Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol and Barcelona attacker Pedro are also among the names to miss out as preparations begin for the European championships in Poland and Ukraine.

Barcelona dominate the list with eight players, followed by Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, who each have four representatives.

Spain have been drawn with Italy, Republic of Ireland and Croatia in the Euro 2012 group stage.