Surprises were in short supply as Vicente del Bosque called up the Atlético Madrid striker Diego Costa for Spain’s friendly against Italy on 5 March in the Vicente Calderón. This is Del Bosque’s last squad sheet before the World Cup; on 13 May he will release a 30-player list before offering the final squad sheet, of 23, on 25 May.
Diego Costa was called up for last year’s friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa, but was unable to play because of an injury. On that occasion he was replaced by Juventus striker Fernando Llorente.
The list also features Chelsea’s Azpilicueta and Bayern’s Thiago Alcántara, who was last involved in August of last year for the friendly against Ecuador. Noteworthy absentees include David Villa, Fernando Torres and Álvaro Arbeloa; in fact there are a number of changes from the previous friendlies, most notably in defence: Arbeloa, Íñigo Martínez (Real Sociedad), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla), Monreal (Arsenal) y Juan Mata (Manchester United) have all been left out.
Gerard Piqué is another name missing as he is currently recovering from a calf injury. Given that the squad sheet for this game is only twenty-two strong, one less that the definitive one for Brazil 2014, and only five defenders have been called up, presumably the Barça centre-back will be the other name missing. Del Bosque has always expressed his preference for taking six out-and-out defenders, along with Javi Martínez, who can play in midfield and defence, in order to make room for midfielders.
The group of players to face Cesare Prandelli’s men is particularly Barça-heavy: seven azulgranas have been included (it would have been eight were it not for Piqué’s absence). There are three from Real Madrid, Atlético and Manchester City, two from Bayern and Napoli and one apiece from Chelsea and Arsenal.
The full squad sheet is the following:
Midfielders: Busquets (Barcelona), Javi Martínez (Bayern Munich), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi Hernández (Barcelona), Koke (Atlético Madrid), Thiago (Bayern Munich), Cazorla (Arsenal) ( Pedro (Barcelona), Jesús Navas (Manchester City), Cesc (Barcelona), Silva (Manchester City) and Iniesta (Barcelona).