World Cup news

Navas sticks up for Del Bosque

March 20, 2013
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Jesus Navas has responded to Jose Mourinho's allegation of irregularities in Vicente Del Bosque's triumph in FIFA's 2012 Coach of the Year award by saying that nobody can question the achievements of the World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 winning Spanish manager.

World Cup
AssociatedVicente Del Bosque led Spain to 13 wins and three draws in 16 games during 2012 as they retained the European Championship

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Mourinho said on Portuguese TV on Tuesday that he had been told votes for him had been changed to support Del Bosque, in an interview aired just before Navas met the press after Spanish training in Madrid.

The winger responded to questions on the subject by saying Del Bosque had been responsible for La Roja's outstanding recent success.

"Vicente has given everything to us," Navas said. "All that we have achieved with him is there to be seen."

Navas was also asked about the fitness of Spain's key playmaker Xavi Hernandez, who is unlikely to feature in Friday's World Cup qualifier against Finland in Gijon due to ongoing hamstring issues, but may return for the key clash with France in Paris on Tuesday.

"Xavi is a very important player, who makes us play in the centre of the pitch," the Sevilla player said. "But there are players to come in for him in that position. We hope he can be okay for the next game against France."

Most attention in Spain this week has been focused on the game in Paris, which is seen as a virtual play-off for automatic qualification for Brazil 2014. The neighbouring countries are currently level atop Group I on seven points from three games, after drawing 1-1 in Madrid in their first meeting.

Del Bosque used Tuesday's training session to try out possible starting line-ups for Friday's game, with Arsenal's Santi Cazorla a potential replacement for Xavi in midfield, and Barcelona's David Villa apparently ahead of Manchester City's David Silva in attack.

Navas said Spain needed to focus fully on Finland, as a win at Gijon's El Molinon would set the team up well for the trip to the Stade de France.

"I believe [Finland] is a very important game, with a lot on the line for us," he said. "We must focus on this game. First we must beat Finland, and once we have done that, we will play a strong opponent like France. There is a team here to get two wins."