Five-star Aduriz returns for Spain
Veteran striker Aritz Aduriz, fresh from his fivegoal haul for Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League, has been rewarded with a call up yesterday for Spain’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Macedonia and friendly against England.
The 35-year-old Basque forward became the first player to score five goals in a Europa League match in Thursday’s 5-3 win over Belgian side Genk and the first to score a hattrick of penalties in the competition.
Spain take on Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier in Granada on November 12 and England at Wembley in a friendly three days later.
Aduriz, who has scored just one goal in his nine appearances for Spain, got a surprise call up to Euro 2016 but has been overlooked since.
But his ten goals this season has encouraged new Spain coach Julen Lopetegui to recall him along with Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Sergio Asenjo and Marc Bartra also returning to the 25-man squad. “He achieved a difficult exploit for a striker, scoring five goals,” said Lopetegui.
“But we were already considering him before yesterday’s game, we were following him over the past month. He’s in great form and can give us something.”
Aduriz will face stiff competition from Chelsea’s Diego Costa, the top scorer in the Premier League, and young Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata.
Stalwarts Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba are out injured, the first time Spain have played without Pique or Ramos since 2009.
“We have a lot of absentees but we have confidence in the players we’ve selected,” added Lopetegui, who has continued with his policy of rotating goalkeepers.
This time Villarreal’s Sergio Asenjo has been given the nod following Adrian San Miguel and Sergio Rico with Lopetegui insisting the door is not closed on emblematic goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Casillas, 35, who has played a record 167 times for Spain, has not been called up since Euro 2016 where he was David de Gea’s backup.
Goalkeepers: Defenders: Midfielders: Forwards: Spain squad
David De Gea (Manchester United/ENG), Pepe Reina (Napoli/ITA), Sergio Asenjo (Villarreal)
Sergi Roberto (FC Barcelona), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Nacho (Real Madrid), Marc Bartra (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Sergio Escudero (Sevilla), Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal/ENG), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea/ENG)
Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Ander Herrera (Manchester United/ENG), Juan Mata (Manchester United/ENG), David Silva (Manchester City/ENG), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich/GER), Francisco Alarcon “Isco” (Real Madrid)
Diego Costa (Chelsea/ENG), Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao), Nolito (Manchester City/ENG), Victor Machin “Vitolo” (Sevilla), Jose Callejon (Napoli/ITA), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid). — AFP