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Rediff.com  » Sports » Penpix of Spain's World Cup squad

Penpix of Spain's World Cup squad

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May 29, 2006 20:46 IST

Spain's squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the following 23 players:

(Statistics up to and including May 25 2006)

GOALKEEPERS:

1-Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) Born 20.5.81. Caps 56. Goals 0.

The undisputed first choice, Casillas is one of Spain's truly world-class players. A brilliant shot stopper and seemingly impossible to beat in one-on-one situations, but does not always dominate his area and still has problems under the high ball. Has just turned 25.

19-Santiago Canizares (Valencia) Born 18.12.69. Caps 44. Goals 0  

Was Spain's first choice going into the last World Cup but a bizarre injury in which he severed a tendon when he dropped an after-shave bottle on his foot led to him missing the tournament and losing his place to Casilllas.

The 36-year-old was thought to have ended his international career but his brilliant form this season has meant that Aragones has little choice but to include him once more.

23-Pepe Reina (Liverpool, England) Born 31.8.82. Caps 2. Goals: 0

Began his career at Barcelona, but made his name when he switched to Villarreal and helped them to finish in a best-ever third place in the league. Joined Rafa Benitez's Spanish colony at Liverpool at the start of the season.

Has a solid and unfussy style and an excellent record in saving penalties. Earlier this season went 11 straight matches without conceding a goal.

DEFENDERS:

3-Asier del Horno (Chelsea, England) Born 19.1.81. Caps 10. Goals 2

Attack-minded full back who is a product of the much-heralded youth team system at Athletic Bilbao. His raiding runs down the left flank, dangerous crosses and sprinkling of headed goals caught the eye of Jose Mourinho who signed him up for Chelsea for eight million pounds ($14.04 million) last year.

Although solid enough in defence, he is prone to getting caught out on the break and lacks the pace to deal with really quick wingers. Suffered an ankle injury three weeks before Spain's opening game of the finals, which the team doctor said could threaten his participation.

22-Pablo Ibanez (Atletico Madrid) Born 3.8.81. Caps 8 Goals 0

Tall centre-back who is strong in the air, has an excellent sense of positioning and great timing in the tackle. Now looks to have pushed ahead of Marchena and Juanito as Puyol's likely partner in the centre of defence.

5-Carles Puyol (Barcelona) Born 13.4.78. Caps 44 Goals 1

Shaggy-haired defender who has become a highly influential figure for both Barcelona and Spain. Terrier-like in the tackle and a threat when he charges forward.

If Raul is the national side's talisman, Puyol is its heart and soul. Now more often used in a centre-half role rather than his previously favoured right-back slot.

4-Carlos Marchena (Valencia) Born 31.7.79. Caps 27 Goals 1

Marchena broke into the national side after winning himself a place in the centre of the miserly Valencia defence that won the league title under Rafa Benitez in 2002.

A determined defender and a good ball player, but does have a tendency to give away costly fouls in and around the area and has lost his undisputed first-choice position at his club since the arrival of Quique Sanchez Flores as coach.

2-Michel Salgado (Real Madrid) Born 22.10.75. Caps 49 Goals 0

Fearless, never-say-die right back who is determined to make an impact at the World Cup after missing out on Euro 2004 through injury.

Very quick, a good tackler and likes getting forward down the right flank. Plenty of big-match experience under his belt at Real and always delivers the goods for Spain, but is not enjoying a good season at club level after losing out to new arrival Cicinho.

20-Juanito (Real Betis) Born 23.7.76. Caps 13 Goals 1  

Strong, confident and good in the air, Juanito has been a fixture in the centre of the Betis back four for the last five seasons.

Has dropped behind Pablo Ibanez in the pecking order for Spain in the last year, but is a reliable back-up option who has always performed well for the national side.

15-Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) Born 20.3.86. Caps 7 Goals 2

Became one of the world's most expensive defenders when Real Madrid bought him out of his contract with Sevilla for 27 million euros ($32.82 million) at the start of the season, but he has yet to prove himself on the big stage and has been found out against top-class sides such as Barcelona.

Skilful and with an eye for goal, Ramos can play either on the right or in the centre of defence.

12-Antonio Lopez (Atletico Madrid) Born 13.9.81. Caps 8 Goals 1

Alternative to Del Horno at left back, Lopez is solid in defence, gets forward well and puts some great crosses into the area. Hard-working and busy he has an excellent understanding with Atletico colleague Ibanez.  

MIDFIELDERS:

17-Joaquin (Real Betis) Born: 21.7.81. Caps 36 Goals 4

Skilful right-sided midfielder who was once billed as Spain's answer to Luis Figo but has failed to live up to expectations.

On his day he can run rings around opposition left backs, but is inconsistent and often tries to take on one man too many. Was dropped for the playoffs against Slovakia after disappointing in qualification and has not been in great form for Betis this season.

14-Xabi Alonso (Liverpool, England) Born 25.11.81. Caps 23 Goals 0

Creative but gritty central midfielder who made his name when he played a key role in Real Sociedad's surprise run to take second place to Real Madrid in the league championship in 2003. Now part of Liverpool's Spanish colony and has regained form after a serious ankle injury disrupted his first season at the club.

6-David Albelda (Valencia) Born 1.9.77. Caps 31 Goals 0

Robust, hard-tackling central midfielder whose highly successful partnership with Baraja at Valencia has been continued at international level.

An expert at snuffing out opponents' attacks before they really get going and a good distributor of the ball although he does pick up bookings too easily.

8-Xavi (Barcelona) Born 25.1.80. Caps 33. Goals 1

Was a key figure in the Barcelona revival and a player all other teams feared when they played the Catalans, but faces a race against time to make the World Cup after sustaining a serious knee ligament injury in December.

His patient ball skills and precise passes have the capacity to wear opponents down, he is also good from free kicks and likes to take a pot at goal. If fit he would be one of the first names down on the Spain team sheet, but his lack of match practice may count against him in Germany.

11-Luis Garcia (Liverpool, England) Born 24.6.78. Caps: 7 Goals: 3

Versatile winger who had an unlucky start to his international career with injury preventing him from making his debut while he was at Atletico and a lack of first-team games putting him out of the reckoning when he was at Barca.

Has thrived since moving to Liverpool and was the decisive player in the 5-1 victory over Slovakia in the first leg of the playoff when he notched up a classy hat-trick.

10-Jose Antonio Reyes (Arsenal, England) Born 1.9.83. Caps: 16 Goals: 3

One of the most talented of the new generation of Spanish players, the young Andalucian was thrust into the limelight with his 17-million-pound move to Arsenal in 2004.

Pacy, with great ball control and a decent shot, he can play either on the left or in the middle, but lacks consistency and is most likely to be used in small doses off the bench.

18-Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal) Born 4.5.87. Caps: 1 Goals: 0

Arsenal spirited the talented but tough midfielder away from the Barcelona youth set-up as a 16-year-old and gave him a fast-track promotion into the first team following injuries to Edu and Gilberto Silva.

He has thrived under Arsene Wenger since the departure of Patrick Viera to Juventus and surprised many with a maturity and work ethic well beyond his years. A good decision maker, he keeps it simple, battles hard and had an impressive debut in the 3-2 win against Ivory Coast in March.

May end up as first choice in the centre of the Spain midfield if Xavi fails to recover from his knee injury.

16-Marcos Senna (Villarreal) Born 17.7.76 Caps: 1 Goals: 0

The dynamic Brazilian-born midfielder is eligible to play for Spain and like Cesc won his first cap against Ivory Coast in march. His outstanding performances in the centre of the Villarreal midfield over the last two seasons have caught the eye.

13-Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) Born 11.5.84 Caps 0.

Another product of the Barcelona youth system who has proved himself at the club over the past two years despite the intense competition from a host of foreign internationals.

Has great vision and often provides the killer ball for the Barcelona forwards. Has a cool, unflustered approach to the game. His participation is likely to depend on the availability of club colleague Xavi.  

FORWARDS:

7-Raul (Real Madrid) Born 27.6.77. Caps: 92 Goals: 42

Leading all-time scorer for his country, Raul was once the golden boy of Spanish football, but has had two poor years at Real Madrid.

Has failed to recapture his form since returning from a three-month lay-off after sustaining a serious knee injury in November and his place in the starting line-up is under threat.

Has yet to produce the goods on the international stage. Failed to do himself justice at either France 98 or at Euro 2000, when his last act was to blast a penalty over the bar in the final minute against France in the quarter-finals. Performed better in 2002 World Cup, but his participation was cut short by injury.

9-Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid) Born 20.3.84. Caps: 27 Goals: 10

Very quick, generally good on the ball, the Atletico Madrid striker is capable of scoring spectacular goals, but has a worrying tendency to miss the easiest of chances and often takes the ball a metre too far.  

Aragones insists on playing him with Raul, but he is more effective when playing just behind a lead striker.

21-David Villa (Valencia). Born 3.12.81. Caps: 5 Goals: 2

One of Spain's few out-and-out strikers, Villa has been one of the Primera Liga's top goal scorers in the last two campaigns and it was little surprise when Valencia stumped up 12 million euros to buy him out of his contract at Real Zaragoza in the close season.

His form this season could be enough to earn him a place in the starting line-up and he is likely to be Spain's best hope of goals.

Source:
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