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‘We don’t have starters’ says del Bosque

David Villa and Xabi Alonso at FedEx press conference
David Villa and Xabi Alonso at FedEx press conference
Robert J. Riccio

Washington, DC, Friday---FedEx Field was the site of the Spanish National Football Team’s press conference on the eve of the defending champions’ final tune up friendly, against El Salvador.

The press conference, split in two parts, was attended by a large gathering of international media, and featured players Xabi Alonso and David Villa in the first part and Coach Vicente del Bosque, by himself, in the second.

When the coach was asked whether he would be playing his starting line-up for the match tomorrow, and whether Diego Costa was in shape to participate del Bosque replied:

“We don’t have starters, we have a 23 man squad and whether we play [David] Silva or [Cesc] Fabregas, or [Fernando] Torres or [David] Villa, makes no difference. We have our way of playing and we have the pieces in place to execute that system. Tomorrow we will probably play those players who have not had a chance to compete in our recent friendlies. Yes, Costa will be among them.”

Villa was asked about his move to the MLS after the World Cup and his feelings about playing in Australia. Villa said: “My move was something that had been discussed earlier [among my managers, team officials and himself] and I am looking forward to this new chapter and hope to be able to meet the expectations people have of me.”

Asked about the nature of the friendly against such minnows as El Salvador, Alonso said: “We take all of our opponents seriously. As professionals we know not to underestimate anyone. We will be ready to play and our coach will determine who plays and what we are to achieve with the match.”

Both players were asked about the rash of injuries to Brazil-bound players and whether they thought the length of the seasonal play was hurting those headed to the cup. Villa responded: “Almost everyone going to the cup has played a similarly long club season,” said the Atletico Madrid La Liga and Champions League contender.

“We hold these mini-seasons with friendlies precisely to prepare and avoid injuries when the cup comes around. It is not uncommon for these injuries to occur, but it is bad luck and I hope we don’t share it.”

Alonso, who did not practice with the team yesterday was asked how he was doing and whether he has a new injury or is recuperating from a long season. He said: “I am fine. Just some usual knocks. I did train, by the way, just not with the team, on my own. But I will be out there today with them.”

Both players were asked about their uncommon run of success with two back to back Euro’s sandwiching a World Cup and whether the team saw this cup as their last best chance, the end of a cycle. Xabi said: “No. We do not think in terms of the cycle ending. Instead we are focused on making history. Yes, for some on the team, this may be the last World Cup but for many there are cups to come. We are looking forward to this challenge, which is not easy, but which we are all convinced we are ready for.”

In view of all the recent rash of injuries, the coach was asked if the squad, overall, was healthy and if it was not risky, given his recent injuries, to play Costa tomorrow. He said: “Yes, we are all doing better. All with practice today and we expect all will be ready for the cup. As to Costa, if we thought it would be risky we would not play him. All involved, doctors, trainers, myself and Costa, agree it would be good to test his fitness tomorrow.”

Asked by a Brazilian reporter—“Brazilian Costa is known better in Spain than in Brazil, could you tell us something about him so people back home can get to know him a little?”

Del Bosque responded: “Of course he is known in Spain more because this is where he has been formed as a player these past many years. You should know that he is a strong willed and determined young man who is developing into a great player and who had a fantastic season which is why he is with us here today.”

The coach was asked what he thought of Villa’s move to the MLS and of the rumor that many more Spanish players may be doing the same in coming months. Also, what effect playing in the MLS would have on his selecting those players participating in the USA for future national Spanish teams.

Del Bosque responded: “Where a player plays is between the player and his handlers, my concern is not that but their form when I seem they play. But that is not an issue for now, for now we are focused on the cup in Brazil.”

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