VALENCIA, Spain (AFP) – Spain’s bid to put right a disastrous defence of the World Cup gets underway in the modest surrounds of Levante’s 26,000 capacity stadium against equally modest opponents Macedonia on Monday.
However, a series of injuries to key players leaves coach Vicente del Bosque searching for goalscorers in his need for a big performance to quell the doubts over his ability to rejuvenate the side and compete for a third consecutive European Championship triumph.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa pulled out of the squad on Thursday after damaging his hamstring in the 1-0 friendly defeat by France on Wednesday, leaving Valencia’s Paco Alcacer, who only made his international debut in Paris as a second-half substitute, as the only recognised striker left in the squad.
Scoring goals has been a familiar problem for Spain in recent times as they failed to score from open play before being eliminated in Brazil and found the net just 14 times in eight games in qualifying for the World Cup.
The absence of the injured Andres Iniesta, added to the international retirements of Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso, also significantly affects La Roja’s ability to play the tiki-taka style of football that brought them success in three consecutive international tournaments.
However, Manchester City midfielder David Silva insists that that style should remain despite an overhaul in personal.
“There are a lot of new people and we need to link up all the new pieces, that is the way forward.
“But we have won a lot playing this way. Cesc (Fabregas), Andres, myself, there are many of us who are used to this and I think we need to continue with it.
“Important players have left, but those that remain are important too and I am sure the new ones will be too in time.”