Despite bounce-back season, Raul left off roster

May 17, 2008

MADRID, Spain -- Former captain and leading all-time scorer Raul and Barcelona teenager Bojan Krkic were left out of the Spain squad for Euro 2008 on Saturday.

The surprise inclusions in coach Luis Aragones' 23-man squad for the tournament in Austria and Switzerland were uncapped Villarreal midfielder Santi Cazorla and Real Zaragoza forward Sergio Garcia.

Raul has not played since the Euro 2008 qualifying defeat against Northern Ireland in September 2006.

The 30-year-old has recaptured his form at title-winning Real Madrid this season and is the club's top scorer with 18 goals, his best tally in seven years.

He is the country's leading scorer with 44 goals and with 102 caps has made more appearances than any other outfield player since making his debut as a 19-year-old in October 1996.

Krkic was likely to have been included but the 17-year-old Barca striker ruled himself out in an agreement with Aragones that he needed to rest.

Villarreal's players were rewarded for an outstanding season, where they edged Barcelona for second place in the Primera Liga for their highest ever finish, with places for Marcos Senna, Joan Capdevila and Santi Cazorla.

In contrast, poor campaigns from Valencia and Espanyol cost the former's Joaquin and Fernando Morientes their places as well as the latter's Albert Riera, Luis Garcia and Raul Tamudo. A stalwart of Euro 2008 qualification David Albelda missed out after former Valencia coach Ronald Koeman sidelined the experienced midfielder for four months.

Sevilla's Andres Palop won the chance for his first cap as third-choice goalkeeper, as did Real Mallorca's Fernando Navarro on defense.

Spain's midfield is packed with talent, which means the versatile Ruben de la Red and pacy winger Cazorla may struggle to make a starting line-up.

Up front, Liverpool's Fernando Torres and Valencia's David Villa are the obvious starting pair but Mallorca's Daniel Guiza earned his place as Spain's top scorer with 26 goals including a league record 19 away from home.

Sergio Garcia has won plaudits for his versatility going forward and, playing more on the right side of attack, is one of the few players to emerge from struggling Real Zaragoza this season with any credit.

Spain are in Group D alongside Russia, Sweden and Greece.