Sunday 18 February 2018

Euro 2012: Del Bosque keeps striking options open for Ireland showdown

David Kelly

David Kelly

Gdansk, a city known historically for its strikers, seems set yet again to host a Spanish side with none ahead of Thursday's next Group C outing against Ireland.

Vicente Del Bosque, coach of the reigning world and European champions, professed himself satisfied with Sunday's unusual experiment, despite howls of protest from former coach Luis Aragones and Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho.

"We have a lot of confidence in what we did. We have three fantastic forwards but Cesc is also a good forward," said Del Bosque yesterday, as Spanish fans continued to dissect their 1-1 draw against Italy.

"Cesc has a lot of composure on the ball, he links up well with everyone and he gets into good scoring positions. We did what we thought was best, even if we risked being mistaken. We have players who are very difficult to control and it was the right time to do it.

"It's possible we'll play the same way. I don't rule out putting someone up front but playing without a striker is an option we have. I believe they are good players to do it, Silva, Fabregas and Iniesta, and I believe they are forwards.

chances

"Matches are usually different in the second half, when the game opens up. In the first half teams tend to be better organised and there are fewer chances for counter-attacks. We made the most of the space when Torres came on but unfortunately we were unable to take our chances.

"Torres came on at the ideal moment. The game was more open and he had the chance of counter-attacks. Games start balanced and then bit by bit they open up and in that situation Torres was ideal."

Given Ireland's unusually slack defending from set-pieces and crosses against the muscular Croats in Poznan, Del Bosque could be tempted to deploy the bustling, free-scoring Fernando Llorente up front.

Spain needed a 64th-minute leveller from Fabregas -- nominally the team's 'centre-forward' in number, if not name -- to rescue a point after substitute Antonio di Natale had fired the Italians ahead four minutes earlier.

When a striker did arrive, Torres came on for the last 15 minutes as a tight game began to open up and he immediately reproduced his Chelsea form, spurning two scoring chances when he was through on goal with only Gianluigi Buffon to beat.

Significantly, and perhaps characteristically, Torres ceded the advantage to his colleague. "If Cesc keeps scoring, he should keep playing," said Torres. Spain may have created more chances upon the Chelsea man's arrival. But it was Fabregas who scored the goal.

Aragones, who led Spain to the title four years ago, was less enamoured. "I would have played with a centre-forward," he said. "In the second half Torres found space and caused a lot of damage."

Irish Independent

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