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Villa’s got a few goals left in him yet

AS AS 08/06/2014 Alfredo Relaño

Two strikes from David Villa – a striker with an assassin’s eye for goal, in last night’s meeting with El Salvador; that was good to see in the wake of Spain’s recent outings in which our brand of football was meticulously picked apart by the pundits. He’s off to Melbourne to pass the time before embarking on a new adventure with New York City FC. Villa stated that he will call time on his international career after this month’s World Cup finals. His announcement has the effect of a white flag being waved, as though he was ready to bid farewell to top level football. Yet this valiant player, one of the chief protagonists of La Roja’s glory-filled years, still has plenty to say – his two goals yesterday were testament to that; two goals which Spain really needed... because the current side is performing well in every department – apart from finding the net.

Above all else, the game served to see whether Diego Costa is fit enough to play his part in Brazil. His last two outings were abruptly cut short. But last night he played for 73 minutes, and at a considerable tempo. He passed the test with flying colours. Two other players with fitness concerns, Juanfran and Jordi Alba, also looked comfortable and fully integrated. The other surprise was Spain’s insistence at launching long balls over the top of the rival defence – a tactic they employed with such frequency, it was almost as though we’d never seen them doing so before. El Salvador pushed their defensive line into an advanced position and Spain responded with a constant volley of deep balls into the box.

Henry Hernández showed that he is a decent goalkeeper although he was at fault for the opening goal when he was beaten to a high ball by Sergio Ramos, who is still showing incredible strength - just like he did in the Champions League final. There were other reasons to feel optimistic: Silva looked sharp and was fully engaged in the game from the moment he was introduced. Overall, the team is looking sound – they are still struggling to score but have quality in abundance from midfield to attack and now they are trying out different methods – varying their game more than before with long-ball tactics the latest addition to their repertoire. In short, I believe that we can go to Brazil with a certain feeling of optimism.

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