The decision by Barcelona striker David Villa to rule himself out of contention for Euro 2012 is bad news for Spain.
Villa broke his leg back in December, and on Tuesday he informed Spain manager Vicente del Bosque he will not be fit for tournament action.
The decision by Villa is a brave one and in doing so he’s put his country first.
He’s sensed he wouldn’t be 100 per cent fit and snipped the growing speculation that he might be able to make the tournament in half.
It has saved Spain and their supporters weeks of agonising, praying even, over their star’s fitness and form and now Del Bosque can set about putting plan B into place.
Compare that with the pre-tournament drama England fans have gone through before over David Beckham and Wayne Rooney and the difference is clear.
As good as Villa is – and he’s scored 51 goals in 82 games for Spain – he’s aware the most important aspect in a successful football team is having 11 fully fit players on the pitch.
Del Bosque will now be looking to the likes of Fernando Torres and Roberto Soldado to fill his boots.
Although Torres looks to be a danger man once again the role could go to Soldado who scored a hat-trick against Venezuela in Spain’s last match.
Del Bosque might also be tempted to accommodate the two but his thought process has been made far easier by Villa’s selfless resignation.
The closer we get to the eager-anticipated opening ceremony of Euro 2012, the more it is becoming obvious that the victors will not come from well-back horses Germany, Holland and Spain – or England.
Rather, everything is pointing to a new name on the trophy in the form of Croatia, Russia or Czech Republic – Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia wins don’t count.
Firstly, the Germans, Spanish and Dutch will all have had another gruelling league and Champions League campaign under their belts and that tends to take its toll at the Euros – where they are rarely any whipping boys – more than the World Cup.
At the last Euros, Croatia were superb if a little naive but four years on, with Slaven Bilić still at the helm, with the best midfielder in the world pulling the strings and with a striker in form in Nikica Jelavić they are genuine contenders.
Russia were equally excellent in Austria and Switzerland, and while Andrey Arshavin has been useless for Arsenal recently, international football is a different proposition all together.
They also have a number of goal scorers including Roman Pavlyuchenko, will have a host of players ready to announce themselves as they did last time around and will have benefited from the money being thrown around their domestic league.
Add to that the fact that the competition is Eastern Europe, and both Croatia and Russia will almost feel at home, it’s evident that the winner will come from one of those two.
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