International

Star-studded Spain for SA

2013-11-07 21:00
Diego Costa (AFP)

Madrid - Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa has been called-up to Vicente del Bosque's Spain squad for the friendly matches against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa later this month.

The Atletico Madrid man declared his intention to play for Spain, for whom he qualifies on residency grounds, and rejected a call-up from Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari last week.

Costa has scored 16 times in as many games this season, including on Wednesday night as Los Rojiblancos secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a 4-0 thrashing of Austria Vienna.

"Every player offers distinct things. Diego fulfils all the criteria to play for Spain as he is in great form," said Del Bosque.

"We still have seven months until the World Cup and he is another option that we wanted to try in these two friendlies."

Del Bosque had previously been quoted as saying that should he call on Costa he would be "almost obliged" to take him to the World Cup.

However, he insists that despite turning his back on Brazil to play for the world champions, he will be judged just like any other player.

"We saw that he could play and we have incorporated him after a logical process.

"It all began in September and he fulfilled all the requirements.

"We got to know him personally and he gave us a strong feeling.

"The credit is not unlimited. From here till the World Cup there is a lot of time.

"In March we will play again Italy and we will see what happens. He has exactly the same circumstances as any other player."

The other notable inclusion was that of Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso for the first time this season as he has just returned to action following groin and foot injuries.

The Barcelona duo of Gerard Pique and Xavi Hernandez are rested, whilst Fernando Torres misses out through injury and Manchester City's David Silva is surprisingly excluded.

In-form Manchester City forward Alvaro Negredo is included and Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla also returns after missing October's World Cup qualifiers through injury.

The reigning world and European champions play Equatorial Guinea in Malabo on November 16 and South Africa in Johannesburg on November 19.

Spain squad to face Equatorial Guinea and South Africa:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Napoli/ITA)

Defenders: Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa (both Real Madrid), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal/ENG), Raul Albiol (Napoli/ITA), Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas (all Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal/ENG), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), David Villa, Diego Costa (both Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas (both Manchester City/ENG), Juan Mata (Chelsea/ENG)

Read more on:    vicente del bosque  |  diego costa  |  soccer
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