Connect in the back of the net

Most Euro 2016 squad announcements over the past couple of weeks have passed by without much drama or even the hint of a surprise. However, Vicente del Bosque caught many people cold when he named his provisional Spain squad this week, particularly with the omission of Diego Costa.

On the face of it naming just four forward players in the squad with a combined total of just two international goals, was an incredibly bold move. Of the four: only Aritz Aduriz and Alvaro Morata are natural strikers with Nolito and surprise call-up Lucas Vazquez more adept at playing in a wide role.

To leave out Diego Costa, who has been the country’s most consistent striker at club level at least over the past four years was a gamble but one that there was logic in.

For starters, Diego Costa’s record for the Spanish national team has not been a good one with just 1 goal in 10 international appearances and that came against minnows Luxembourg almost two years ago.



He’s never been a popular figure in Spain with accusations he disrupts the team’s style and doesn’t fit well into the team both on and off the pitch never far away.

Certainly at World Cup 2014, the Costa experiment didn’t work as Spain crashed out at the group stage and looked a shadow of the side that had won the previous three major international tournaments.

With his Euro 2016 squad, Del Bosque has to some extent gone back to the philosophy that previously brought so much success. The centre forward position has never been key to Spain’s triumphs with possession football and a midfield packed with creativity their winning formula.


Tactically unnecessary

At Euro 2012 in particular, we saw Spain flourish without an in-form striker and arguably the finest performance of their golden era came in the final of that tournament when Spain hammered Italy 4-0 without an out and out striker in their team instead opting to pack the midfield and play Cesc Fabregas in a false number 9 position.

The selection of just two natural strikers in the squad for Euro 2016 clearly indicates the way in which Del Bosque is likely to approach this tournament. Of course any team needs options, but it was unlikely that both Aritz Aduriz and Diego Costa would make the squad with both players being of a fairly similar ilk in that they rely on their power rather than pace to trouble defences.


Not the best option

On this season’s form at least Aduriz was the better option. He had a sensational campaign for Athletic Bilbao netting 36 goals in 51 appearances for his club. Costa by contrast hit 16 goals in 41 appearances for Chelsea, not bad by any means but still significantly worse than that of the Basque striker.

The perception that Diego Costa brings added baggage to the table may also have been a factor in contrast to Aduriz who is widely regarded as the model professional and despite his lack of international caps, at 35 years old has a wealth of experience behind him.

The omission of Diego Costa was a surprise to many, but it’s not hard to see why Vicente Del Bosque made the call that he did.


Written by Mark Sochon

Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol

Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!

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