Vincente Del Bosque has delayed naming his final twenty-three man squad to take to Brazil, allowing Diego Costa time to prove his fitness, after a hamstring injury forced him off after only nine minutes of last night's Champions League final.
Instead, Del Bosque has name a nineteen-man squad to face Bolivia, on May 30, including Barcelona youngster Gerard Deulofeu, and uncapped duo Alberto Moreno and Ander Iturraspe, from Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao respectively. Their inclusion is less of a shock than Deulofeu, given they were included in the thirty-man provisional squad.
None of the Atlético or Real Madrid players involved in the Champions League final are involved, allowing the likes of Raul Albiol, Santi Cazorla and Juan Mata the chance to stake their claims for a place in the final twenty-three.
Interestingly only Fernando Torres has been chosen to face Bolivia, leaving fellow forwards Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Negredo sweating over their inclusion. If Diego Costa is fit, Del Bosque will likely only chose one out of David Villa, Torres, Llorente and Negredo.
Del Bosque's decision to take a closer look at Deulofeu shows he is not going to be rushed into deciding his final squad. He has an embarrassment of riches to chose from, but cutting seven players from the squad is an unenviable task, that will leave some top-class players disappointed.
Ander Iturraspe is almost certain to be cut from the preliminary squad, whilst in defence, Cesar Azpilicueta's ability to play on both flanks mean Del Bosque only really needs to take one out of Juanfran and Dani Carvajal on the right, and Jordi Alba and Alberto Moreno on the left. Three of the five strikers could be cut, but this is very much dependant on Costa's fitness.
As David Villa offers a different approach to Llorente, Negredo and Torres, who are similar in style to Costa, he is in a prime position survive the cull. The injury to Thiago Alcantara means he will miss out, but if Del Bosque decides to keep another striker in the squad, or take another full-back to Brazil, the final place in the squad will come down to Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla. Given Mata's troubles this season, the attacking midfielder is in a vulnerable position.
Whoever Del Bosque decides to pick, Spain are arguably going to the World Cup with the strongest squad. Diego Costa's decision to start for Atlético in the Champions League final could well have cost him a chance to play at the World Cup, although for the sake of both football and pantomime, we should all cross-our fingers that the Brazilian born striker wins his battle to be fit.
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