Five-star Aduriz re­turns for Spain

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MADRID:

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

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