Spain’s attack needs improving,and forward Jesus Navas wants the chance to provide that spark when the defending champions play Ireland on Thursday at the European Championship.
Navas showed the talent for getting Spain’s attack going in its Group C opener. The Sevilla winger’s pace down the right clearly troubled Italy’s defense and opened up more space for his teammates,although substitute Fernando Torres was unable to capitalize on a number of opportunities.
In 18 appearances,the World Cup winner rarely starts with coach Vicente del Bosque preferring the burst he carries off the bench in the latter stages.
But Del Bosque’s experiment of using Cesc Fabregas in front of his playmaking midfield failed to generate dangerous chances apart from the 64th-minute equalizer,which means the 26-year-old Navas may finally get his chance.
“I’m enjoying every minute and I’m very motivated about bringing my qualities to the team,so I’m giving everything I have in every practice to get there,” Navas said. “This team has experience in controlling games. At the World Cup we lost the first game and then won all the rest to win the title,and here there are still a lot of points in play.”
Navas’ entry probably depends on Del Bosque returning Torres to a starting spot or opting for Fernando Llorente or Alvaro Negredo in the traditional striker’s role. Spain should also be looking to generate space against an opponent looking to rally from a 3-1 loss to Croatia and which has already promised to be compact in defense.
“Against Ireland we will take whatever decision suits us best. The only thing we’re worried about is that the team plays well,” said a calm and assured Del Bosque,whose selection has been questioned with the reliable David Villa injured. “We’re relaxed,in the sense that we are aware of the responsibility we face. We must beat Ireland.”
Spain will be hoping the field at the PGE Arena in Gdansk is better suited to its game this time. After the draw against Italy,the team complained to UEFA that the quality of the turf was poor and affected its quick-touch passing game.
Ireland will be looking to use that and any other advantage as it looks to maintain its chances of reaching the quarterfinals.
“We still have belief in this squad that we can play against anybody and get a result,” Ireland striker Robbie Keane said.
Ireland is without major injury concerns. Defender Richard Dunne returned to training Tuesday after recovering from blisters,while midfielder Darron Gibson has had a scan on a thigh problem but also practiced normally.
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