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Rediff.com  » Sports » Alba back in Spain squad; Portugal drop Ronaldo again

Alba back in Spain squad; Portugal drop Ronaldo again

November 08, 2018 20:45 IST

Jordi Alba

IMAGE: Jordi Alba. Photograph: Vincent West/Reuters

Barcelona defender Jordi Alba has been recalled to the Spain squad for the Nations League decider away to Croatia and friendly with Bosnia.

Full back Alba, who had been excluded from both coach Luis Enrique’s squads since he took over from Julen Lopetegui, has played a key role in Barca’s impressive start to the season, scoring two goals and notching seven assists in 15 games.

Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso and Real Madrid’s Nacho were notable absentees in defence, along with Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke.

 

Dortmund forward Paco Alcacer, who scored three goals for Spain during the last set of internationals against Wales and England and has seven Bundesliga goals in five appearances this term, was also left out.

Uncapped Espanyol defender Mario Hermoso and Celta Vigo midfielder Brais Mendez were given maiden call-ups while Pablo Fornals and Diego Llorente returned to the squad looking to add to the solitary caps they picked up in 2016.

“There’s a lot of new faces, but this is good and it gives hope to others. It also shows we’ve got a big group of players who can come into the squad,” Enrique told reporters.

“We’re going to continue with the same philosophy of playing good football, to press the opponent, to be solid, compact and hopefully the players can show their best.”

“The game in Zagreb won’t be anything like our previous meeting (6-0 victory in September). It’ll be a wonderful game to prepare for and play in. We have things in our own hands, but so do Croatia. It’ll be a great test, in a hostile environment and a side looking to get one over on us after the first meeting.”

Spain lost 3-2 at home to England in their last game.

“Against England I had a bittersweet feeling," Enrique said.

"It was more bitter than sweet, but then I analysed the game and we were effective, the side came back and we just ran out of time.”

Spain top League A Group 4 in the Nations League on six points, two ahead of England, and will ensure group victory and qualification for the Final Four with victory in Zagreb.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: David De Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) Pau López (Betis)

Defenders: Jonny Otto (Wolves), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Diego Llorente (Real Sociedad), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Mario Hermoso (Espanyol), Inigo Martínez (Athletic Bilbao), Joe Luis Gaya (Valencia) and Jordi Alba (Barcelona)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Pablo Fornals (Villarreal), Brais Mendez (Celta Vigo), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Saul Niguez (Atletico), Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid), Isco (Real Madrid) and Rodri (Atletico)

Forwards: Suso (AC Milan), Rodrigo (Valencia), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Morata (Chelsea) and Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)

Ronaldo left out again by Portugal

Portugal again left out Cristiano Ronaldo, their all-time record scorer and most capped player, as coach Fernando Santos named the squad for this month’s Nations League matches against Italy and Poland on Thursday.

Santos previously omitted Ronaldo from the squad in September and October, saying the decision was taken by mutual consent as the 33-year-old was still adapting following his move from Real Madrid to Juventus.

 “The only thing I will say about Ronaldo is that I hope he wins the Ballon d’Or award,” said Santos, referring to France Football magazine’s annual player of the year award.

"He deserves it and it would be an injustice if he didn't win."

Portugal visit Italy on November 17 and are at home to Poland three days later.

Santos did not say whether Ronaldo, who last played for Portugal at the World Cup in Russia, would be recalled for their following matches in March.

 “It’s not just about Ronaldo, I have said that nobody is excluded,” said Santos.

“It’s not worth creating a big fuss about it.”

"Only the future will tell us what is going to happen. I don't know what will happen between now and March. There will be a natural evolution... I don't have the gift of being able to guess the future."

Santos recalled four Euro 2016 winners who missed the previous callup -- Raphael Guerreiro, Jose Fonte, Andre Gomes and Joao Mario.

Portugal lead Group Three with six points from two games and a draw in Italy will see them through to the semi-finals.

Source:
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