Del Bosque goes with Torres despite Soldado's good form
FERNANDO TORRES has been named in the Spain squad for Euro 2012 despite his mixed season with Chelsea.
Ireland take on the European and World champions in their second Group C clash on June 14 and manager Vicente del Bosque has named a strong squad.
Valencia's Roberto Soldado was the big loser as he was left out despite a prolific season, and the fact that he scored a hat-trick for his country in March. In his place, Torres was chosen along with Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo.
Much of the squad is along expected lines, with defender Carles Puyol and striker David Villa having already been ruled due to injury. But Atletico Madrid forward Adrian Lopez was overlooked despite scoring on his debut in the 2-0 victory over Serbia on Saturday. Manchester United's goalkeeper David de Gea also failed to make the cut after being included in a provisional squad which has been training in Austria.
Del Bosque conceded it would be hard to fill Villa's shoes. The forward ruled himself out after failing to recover from a broken leg he suffered in December.
"Villa is irreplaceable with his characteristics and effectiveness, nobody has done better than him," rued Del Bosque.
"There is no special case," he added, of the players who missed out. "It's the same for everyone, Soldado, Adrian and the rest. They may feel upset but they must be good sportsmen. In September, we will make more call-ups so they have to be ready for that. In football, you need to bring in new blood, but not make changes for the sake of it."
Meanwhile, Croatia warmed up for their opening game against Ireland with a 3-1 win over Estonia on Friday night, thanks to goals from defender Vedran Corluka, former Blackburn striker Nikola Kalinic and Dinamo Kiev star Ognjen Vukojevic.
Italy were idle this weekend, but midfielder Andrea Pirlo has reaffirmed the Azzurri's confidence ahead of the tournament.
"The objective of the side is to reach the final. We can do it. We might not be amongst the favourites to win the competition, but I agree with Buffon: our objective has to be finishing in the top four.
"I see Spain as the favourites; after all, they are the current World and European champions."