Spain will undoubtedly be considered one of the favourites for the upcoming European Championships; but if they are to create history and reclaim their title for a third time in a row there is one very important question on everyone’s mind. Who’s going to put the ball in the back of the net?
When Spain announced their provisional squad for the Championships, two players most would have bet money on featuring up front for Spain were nowhere to be seen. Diego Costa’s exclusion ultimately should not be as glaring as it was due to his poor form, injury problems, and overall failure to adapt to the principles of Vicente Del Bosque’s team. However, the omission of Paco Alcacer is interesting. The Valencia front man could be criticised for not building on his impressive form last season, but it’s not like he had a truly horrendous season this time out. What makes this move even more confusing is the fact that Paco was Spain’s top scorer during the qualifiers for this tournament.
Instead of Paco, the goal scoring burden will be placed on the shoulders of Alvaro Morata and Aritz Aduriz, who between the pair of them combine for nine international caps and two goals. This does not inspire confidence.
First up is Alvaro Morata. Currently at Juventus, this guy is an odd commodity. He seems to be on the wishlist of many a club around Europe yet when we analyse his numbers he doesn’t appear to be worth the fuss. Twelve goals in 47 appearances for a player many are tipping to move for upwards of £40 million this summer? It doesn’t add up. As inconsistent as Morata is, he seems to have developed a reputation for being a clutch player. Is this belief accurate? It’s true he doesn’t score many goals and it’s true he has scored some important ones. He recently scored the winner off the bench for Juventus in the Coppa Italia and his resume includes goals in the Champions league semi final and final. That doesn’t necessarily translate to a ‘clutch player’ but many eyes will be focused on him this summer. Del Bosque will be hoping Morata can provide big moments on a consistent basis in the coming weeks.
The other player vying for a starting spot up front for Spain this summer can be described as somewhat of a golden oldie. The 35 year Aduriz has just enjoyed his most fruitful campaign in his career where he notched a stunning 36 goals in all competitions. His incredible numbers over the last two seasons made it almost impossible for Del Bosque to ignore him as potential solution to Spain’s goal scoring dilemma. His efforts were rewarded with a call up for Spain’s two friendlies against Italy and Bulgaria six years after his first appearance for La Furia Roja. He did not disappoint and his performances in those games in addition to his club form have won him a spot on the plane.
Utilising a striker-less system is something Spain have done with success in the past even when blessed with the likes of David Villa and Fernando Torres. With options thinned down now it would not be a shot out the dark to see one of David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, or even Isco spearhead Spain’s team in a false nine position. At the end of the day, goals win games and Spain has us wondering where the goals will come from.