Spain reaches the Euro Cup Poland-Ukraine 2012 as the defending champion, the reigning world champion and the number 1 team in the world. This means there is a lot of pressure on them, making it very important for their coach Vicente Del Bosque to choose the right players for the continental competition. Many suitors had come up, especially in the forwards area, where the options were many, but only a few could be selected.
The main options for Del Bosque: Pedro Rodríguez and David Villa from F.C. Barcelona, Chelsea’s Fernando Torres, Roberto Soldado from Valencia F.C., Álvaro Negredo from Sevilla and Athletic de Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente. David Villa was the first to be excluded from the list, being unable to fully recover from the leg fracture he suffered last December. Pedro Rodríguez seemed to be in due to his ability to play in the flanks, with other players such as Juan Mata and Jesus Navas. This meant the fight for the last spots was between Soldado, Llorente, Torres and Negredo. One of this center forwards had to be rejected. Who to choose? Let the statistics talk (taking into account games from all competitions, in descending order):
- Roberto Soldado: 0,53 goals per game (27 goals in 51 games)
- Fernando Llorente: 0,49 goals/game (30 goals, 61 games)
- Raúl González: 0,46 goals/game (21 goals, 46 games)
- Álvaro Negredo: 0,44 goals/game (17 goals, 39 games)
- Fernando Torres: 0,20 goals/game (12 goals, 59 games)
Roberto Soldado had the biggest goal average, with more than 1 goal each 2 games. The worst was Fernando Torres, who seemed to get out of his slump as the season ended, “raising” his average to 1 goal each 5 games. I added Raúl to the list so as to show that no matter his age he still has a high goal average, even if he was never even considered as an option. As most of you know, Del Bosque finally chose Llorente, Negredo and Torres, this way leaving the best Spanish striker in the 2011-2012 season out of the Euro, and including the one with the lowest average in the final list. Soldado had his first cap against Venezuela, when he entered the pitch in the second half to score 3 goals. “El Niño” just scored his first goal in 4 games this season wearing the red jersey against South Korea last week. This just shows that numbers are not the only aspect considered by coaches. These strickers’ performances during the Euro will determine if Del Bosque made the right choices, or not.