Evolving Spain attack bad news for Euro 2012 foes

Spain’s attack is evolving into a ruthless force again at the

European Championship, and that spells bad news for opponents.

Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas have combined to score four of

the defending champions’ five goals in two games. Spain’s attacking

options were on display in the 4-0 win over Ireland on Thursday,

after coach Vicente del Bosque was criticized for using six

midfielders in the team’s opening 1-1 draw against Italy.

Spain and Group C co-leader Croatia will meet Monday with Spain

knowing it needs only a draw at the Arena Gdansk Stadium to reach

the Euro 2012 quarterfinals. Both Spain and Croatia have four

points, two more than Italy. Ireland has already been

eliminated.

Now, Spain fans are wondering what formation Del Bosque will use

against Croatia.

”(The debate) will go on, we can’t do anything about that. But

it’s a good thing that playing with a No. 9 works,” said Torres,

who moved to third on Spain’s all-time scoring list with his 30th

goal. ”We’ve scored different kinds of goals and the great thing

is Spain has very good players and a lot of options.”

Against Ireland, Spain’s attack was constantly evolving after

Torres’ fourth-minute goal. That early strike unburdened Spain and

its possession game was afforded extra space to get its slick

passing game going.

Spain completed an astounding 779 passes and managed 26 shots as

Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and David Silva found room in the

center, while Xabi Alonso also joined in the attack after a more

defensive role against the Italians.

After a hesitant start against Italy, Spain is finding its way

and showing it has the players and systems to beat different

opponents in different ways.

”We have a big squad with 23 players, all of them play in the

starting lineup of their clubs. Fernando is one of the

alternatives,” Del Bosque said. ”We wanted to dominate on the

pitch and we had (67) percent possession of the ball.”

David Villa’s injury absence has forced much tinkering to

Spain’s squad, and although Del Bosque was calm and confident in

his choices, not all of his players were pleased with the debate it

had generated.

”With the national team there is never any patience, and if you

don’t win then things are bad. Only four years ago we hadn’t won a

thing,” said defender Gerard Pique, whose newly implemented

partnership with Sergio Ramos in the center of defense was

improving. ”There is no patience, but we have to live with

that.”

The World Cup winners do have to be vigilant about bookings

against the Croatians with Torres, Alonso and fullbacks Alvaro

Arbeloa and Jordi Alba all one yellow card away from

suspension.

Paul Logothetis can be reached at:

www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP