Spain plays US, Venezuela without Xavi or Puyol

Spain plays US, Venezuela without Xavi or Puyol

Published May. 25, 2011 8:38 a.m. ET

Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol were left out of Spain's squad on Wednesday for upcoming friendlies against the United States and Venezuela.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque preferred to rest the Barcelona pair as Puyol has played little in 2011 due to a knee injury.

''He's suffering quite a lot from his problem,'' Del Bosque said regarding the tendinitis in Puyol's right knee that has limited him to three appearances since Jan. 22.

Xavi was being rested after a taxing season which culminates in Saturday's Champions League final against Manchester United.


''I personally spoke with Xavi and we thought it was better not to bring him after such a long season,'' Del Bosque added.

Spain plays the U.S. in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on June 4 and Venezuela in Puerto La Cruz three days later.

The matches will be the first test of whether relations within the world champion squad have been strained by the recent run of ill-tempered matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona, with a combined 11 players from the two teams included.

Tensions between teammates were raised as the bitter Spanish rivals played four times in 18 days.

''We retain our confidence in the World Cup group of players,'' Del Bosque said. ''The most important thing is we're bringing the players we need to.''

Injured Arsenal playmaker Cesc Fabregas is missing, but Fernando Torres kept his place despite his poor form since moving from Liverpool to Chelsea.

''He's a stable player inside this group - we didn't want to open up any debate,'' Del Bosque said from the Spanish federation headquarters.

Del Bosque recalled Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo after a 20-goal season, while Villarreal midfield duo Borja Valero and Bruno Soriano were also included. Striker Manu del Moral earned his first call-up, getting the nod over Valencia pair Roberto Soldado or Aritz Aduritz.



Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), Victor Valdes (Barcelona).

Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Carlos Marchena (Villarreal), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Andoni Iraola (Athletic Bilbao).

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Villarreal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Bruno Soriano (Villarreal), Borja Valero (Villarreal).

Forwards: David Villa (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Manu Del Moral (Sevilla), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla).