Spain coach Vicente
del Bosque has defended his decision to start without a striker
in their 1-1 Euro 2012 draw against Italy and suggested he might
use the same tactic for Thursday's Group C clash with Ireland.
The world and European champions needed a 64th-minute Cesc
Fabregas leveller to rescue a point in the Polish port city of
Gdansk on Sunday after substitute Antonio Di Natale had fired
the Italians ahead four minutes earlier.
Del Bosque left Fernando Torres and his other two centre
forwards, Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Negredo, out of his
starting line-up, opting instead for an attacking line featuring
a roving Fabregas and Andres Iniesta and David Silva.
Del Bosque said one of the aims of his formation had been to
give Spain more security in possession but they struggled to get
their swift passing game going on a dry and heavy-looking pitch
against a well-drilled Italian side.
Iniesta caused problems with his darting runs in from the
left and forced Gianluigi Buffon into several smart saves, while
Silva had a quiet game by his standards - although he did
provide the assist for the goal - before he was replaced just
past the hour mark by winger Jesus Navas.
When Torres came on for the last 15 minutes as a tight game
began to open up he fluffed two scoring chances when he was
through on goal with only Buffon to beat.
"We have a lot of confidence in what we did," Del Bosque
said on Spanish radio station Cadena Ser. "We have three
fantastic forwards but Cesc is also a good forward."
"He 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
I thought it was the right time to do it."
Del Bosque's tactics drew criticism from his predecessor
Luis Aragones, who was Spain coach when they won the continental
title four years ago.
In a guest column for Marca sports daily on Monday, Aragones
said the decision to deploy Fabregas as what he called a "false
centre-forward" had surprised him.
"Obviously, I respect the coach's decision but I would have
played with a centre-forward," wrote Aragones, known as "the
wise man of Hortaleza" after the Madrid suburb he comes from.
"In the second half Torres... found space and caused a lot
of damage," he added.
Spain meet Ireland on Thursday after Giovanni Trapattoni's
side were thumped 3-1 by Croatia on Sunday and Del Bosque said
he may start without a striker again.
"It's possible we'll play the same way," he told Cadena Ser.
"I don't rule out putting someone up front but [playing
without a striker] is an option we have," he added.
"I believe they are good players to do it, Silva, Fabregas
and Iniesta, and I believe they are forwards.
"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."
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