World Cup qualifying news

Juan Mata in, Soldado out for Spain

October 4, 2013
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque has recalled Chelsea’s Juan Mata and omitted Tottenham's Roberto Soldado -- but the main focus of his squad announcement was Diego Costa.

Lowe: Unloved Costa has earned our respect

Del Bosque said he was counting on Atletico Madrid striker Costa but could not select him just yet.

The 62-year-old, who also gave a first call-up to Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno, was speaking as he named his players for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Belarus in Mallorca on October 11 and Georgia in Albacete four days later.

Tournament holders Spain need four points to ensure qualification as group winners for next summer’s finals in Brazil.

Soldado was a notable absentee from their 23-man list, while Santi Cazorla, Jordi Alba, Xabi Alonso, Carles Puyol, Fernando Torres and Thiago Alcantara are missing through injury.

Most questioning at Friday’s press conference in Madrid, however, centred on Brazil-born Costa amid reports that the Brazilian FA had blocked Spain’s attempt to get him to switch.

Del Bosque explained the situation and suggested Costa would get a chance for Spain in the next squad.

“The RFEF did the paperwork but there was a delay with FIFA,” he said. “If anyone is guilty, it is us for not expecting it. There is no commitment from anyone, but we are counting on having him with us.

“Nobody chooses where they are born, and he fulfils all the regulations to be with us. Brazil is still an option for him until he plays for us… but I believe he feels part of a country which has accepted him. He wants to play with us.”

Del Bosque said he had no concerns about how the abrasive Costa might fit into a squad containing many players he has clashed with at club level, or how the wider public might feel about a Brazilian playing for Spain.

“He is different to, and complements, what we already have,” he said. “We had a very nice, friendly conversation [on the phone]. He is a good kid, not like the aggressive Diego Costa you see on the pitch. There were previous players [such as Brazil-born Marcos Senna] who were all well received and adapted naturally.”

Del Bosque also said Moreno -- who won a European Under-21 Championship medal with Spain last summer -- was the natural replacement for the sidelined Alba at left-back.

“[Moreno] is a dynamic player, he does both things [defending and attacking] well,” he said. “He has played well for the Under-21s. He is the natural replacement and allows us to grow the squad a little with new players.”

Moreno said: "I'm very happy, I couldn't ask for more. Days like this don't happen all the time. I was delighted to find out that I'm going to play with the best in the world, it makes me really proud to think of myself with them.''

Even without Costa, in-form Atletico have four players in the squad -- midfielders Koke and Mario Suarez, right-back Juanfran and attacker David Villa, the same number as city rivals Real Madrid.

“They are a team who are doing fantastically well,” Del Bosque said. “We cannot bring everyone, but if a team is doing well all its elements benefit. We have nothing against any club, there is a lot of competition for places and we treat everyone the same.”

Colchoneros midfielder Koke, 21, could play in deep midfield alongside Sergio Busquets given the absences of Alonso and Thiago.

“We are very happy with him, and he showed [in Spain’s last friendly] against Chile what a good player he is,” Del Bosque said.

Captain Iker Casillas only playing in Champions League games for Madrid was still not a concern, the coach claimed. “I would look to the positive part of him playing fewer games,” he said. “He would arrive rested and fit. We look at things from day to day, and take decisions based on a common feeling.”

Full Spain squad

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas [Real Madrid], Pepe Reina [Napoli], Barcelona [Victor Valdes]

Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa & Sergio Ramos [Real Madrid], Juanfran [Atletico Madrid], Gerard Pique [Barcelona], Raul Albiol [Napoli], Nacho Monreal [Arsenal] & Alberto Moreno [Sevilla].

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas & Andres Iniesta [all Barcelona], Koke & Mario Suarez [Atletico Madrid], Isco [Real Madrid], David Silva & Jesus Navas [Manchester City], Juan Mata [Chelsea].

Forwards: Alvaro Negredo [Manchester City], David Villa [Atletico Madrid]. 

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