It is hard to find two
players who contributed more to Spain's Euro 2008 and 2010 World
Cup triumphs than David Villa and Carles Puyol and how the team
will cope without the injured pair at Euro 2012 remains a
Spain would not be continental or world champions without
record scorer Villa's four goals in Austria and Switzerland four
years ago and his five in South Africa two years later, while
inspirational defender Puyol contributed a crusading spirit and
a wealth of experience that will be sorely missed.
Coach Vicente del Bosque's three strikers - Fernando Torres,
Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Negredo - are very different
players to Villa, whose pace and guile perhaps made him a better
fit with the team's playing style based on swift passing and
Torres, whom Del Bosque seems set to include in his starting
line-up when Spain begin their Group C campaign against Italy in
Gdansk on Sunday, had an indifferent season with Chelsea, while
Llorente and Negredo are more impact players who come off the
bench to shake things up late in the game.
In central defence, Gerard Pique will likely partner Sergio
Ramos but neither commands the same respect in the squad or
packs as much of a punch on the pitch as the shaggy-haired
Puyol, whose finest moment was the towering header that knocked
Germany out in the 2010 World Cup semi-finals.
"It's an absence that is painful for all of us," fullback
Alvaro Arbeloa said of Puyol after Spain completed their first
training session at their base in Gniewino, Poland on Wednesday.
"He is a player who is always switched on, he is physically
very strong and fast and he not only gives a lot of confidence
to the defence but also to the forwards," Arbeloa, who trained
normally after shaking off a minor neck injury, told a news
"He also has a great deal of experience and his character
both on the pitch and off means that obviously we will miss him.
"But others have come in his place and we'll try to make
sure he is missed as little as possible."
Javi Martinez, who can play as a defensive midfielder or in
Puyol's usual position in central defence, told the same news
conference the two absent players had made a vital contribution
to Spain's European and world titles.
"But we have other players who have come here who can do the
job the same or better and I am sure that with them we won't
notice their absence too much," he added.
Injury concern Cesc Fabregas successfully came through
Wednesday's session and looks to have recovered fully from a
hamstring strain, while Jesus Navas also took part.
The pacy winger had a checkup on Tuesday after sustaining a
blow to the hand in training but a scan showed he had not
suffered significant bone damage.
After playing Italy, Spain meet Ireland and Croatia and
Arbeloa dismissed a suggestion that the heavyweight pair would
progress to the knockout round with ease.
"For me Croatia and Ireland are both really good teams with
good players and you never know what can happen," the former
Liverpool man said.
"I know Ireland very well and physically they are really,
really strong and are always fighting," he added. "For Italy and
for us it will be difficult."
Stoke City and manager Tony Pulis part company by mutual agreement after seven years
Andy Carroll pulls out of England's friendly internationals against Ireland and Brazil
Manchester City and the New York Yankees have formed a new Major League Soccer team
Real Madrid president under scrutiny after latest coaching project ends in disarray
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010