Feb 28, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT
We all know reigning World and European champions Spain have a wealth of talented players to choose from.
But this is pretty incredible.
Spanish head coach Vicente del Bosque has dropped stars Juan Mata and Fernando Torres from his squad to face Italy in a friendly next Wednesday, with both players left in the lurch ahead of the World Cup this summer in Brazil.
Torres, 29, has over 100 caps for Spain and has 36 goals for his country. The Chelsea forward, who is still the Premier League’s most expensive ever player following his $75 million move in 2011, scored the winning goal for Spain in the Euro 2008 final and has been a mainstay for almost a decade.
As for Mata, the diminutive magician has recently joined Manchester United for a club record $54 million and is deemed to be one of the greatest playmakers in the PL. But now, just like he feared, Mata will have to battle hard just to get on the plane to Brazil. With regular soccer evading him at Chelsea, Mata moved to United to try and force his way back into the starting lineup for Spain. Now, it’s all about getting in that 23-man squad.
Do Torres and Mata deserve to be in the Spain squad?
On talent alone, it’s hard to leave them out, but both players have struggled to play regularly at Chelsea this season as Torres has been out injured for large spells, while Mata was out of favor under Jose Mourinho. Mata’s place is perhaps most under-threat as the likes of Santi Cazorla, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva and Andres Iniesta are all ahead of him. That’s a daunting task to overtake those chaps in the final few months of the season. As for Torres, he has Diego Costa and Alvaro Negredo to deal with, while Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer David Villa has also surprisingly been left out of the squad.
Their omissions are good news for some people though: fans of Manchester United and Chelsea. Expect Mata and Torres to have splendid finishes to the season as the aim to push hard and put in some superb displays to book their seat on the plane to Brazil.
Spain squad vs. Italy: Víctor Valdés, Reina, Juanfran, Javi Martínez, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Azpilicueta, Raúl Albiol, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Koke, Thiago Alcántara, Iniesta, Jesús Navas, Cazorla, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Negredo, Pedro, David Silva
- MLS roundup: Last-place beats 1st-place; Toronto FC top Timbers; Revs, D.C. split points 0
- Premier League Sunday preview: One last time, with feeling (and drama… and dread) 0
- Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Tension galore as finale arrives 0
- Premier League scenarios: Europa League and relegation requirements 0
- Premier League Preview: Hull City vs. Manchester United 1
- TV SCHEDULE: Premier League finale – 10 games, 10 channels on Championship Sunday 0