Spain mostly unchanged for Euros

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iol spt may27 Spain Soccer Team AFP Defending champion Spain's Euro 2012 squad includes the bulk of their World Cup winning team, with Alvaro Negredo earning one of the vaunted attacking positions in place of injured all-time leading scorer David Villa.

SCHRUNS, Austria – Defending champion Spain's Euro 2012 squad includes the bulk of its World Cup winning team, with Alvaro Negredo earning one of the vaunted attacking positions in place of injured all-time leading scorer David Villa.

Coach Vicente del Bosque called on the Sevilla striker to fill in for Villa, the country's all-time leading scorer and who was also top scorer when Spain won the European title four years ago. Valencia striker Roberto Soldado missed out, while Atletico Madrid's Adrian Lopez was also discarded despite scoring in his debut Saturday, a 2-0 friendly win over Serbia.

"Villa is irreplaceable," Del Bosque said on Sunday after the Barcelona striker failed to recover from leg surgery in time. "But we needed to find solutions."

Spain opens Group C on June 10 against Italy before facing Ireland and Croatia.

The 23-man squad also features Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez, who started the World Cup final two years ago but was on the fringe of being selected until a strong end to his club season.

Del Bosque made only four changes to his World Cup champions, with two of those - Villa and defender Carles Puyol - out of necessity as a result of injuries. Twelve players return from the team that hoisted the European title in Vienna four years ago, including Fernando Torres who scored in the 1-0 final win over Germany.

Torres' turnaround for Champions League winners Chelsea means he will likely lead the attack alongside Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente, with David Silva, Juan Mata and Jesus Navas filling the forward line.

Del Bosque included fullbacks Jordi Alba and Juanfran Torres plus centerback Raul Albiol in defense with Puyol sidelined. Alba and Juanfran are making their major championship debut.

Del Bosque left Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara out while taking a chance on Cesc Fabregas, who won't be available for up to 10 days due to injury.

"In Cesc's case, the doctors are optimistic," Del Bosque said. "We had (Thiago) in mind, but we can't bring all of Barcelona's players. He called me to tell me he had an injury that meant he needed to rest."

Euro 2008 standout Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, who scored the winning goal in the World Cup final against the Netherlands, lead the seven Barcelona players in the team, including midfielder Sergio Busquets, defender Gerard Pique and goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Real Madrid has five players in the team, including defenders Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa and Albiol, plus Xabi Alonso and captain Iker Casillas.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), Víctor Valdes (Barcelona).

Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Valencia), Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Santi Cazorla (Malaga).

Forwards: David Silva (Manchester City), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla). – Sapa-AP


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