Álvaro Negredo is a striker of considerable class, combining the physicality necessary to win aerial duels and play with one’s back to goal with the guile and burst necessary to wreak havoc on runs in behind defence. There isn’t a club in the world who couldn’t put his talents to use in some capacity, and an undoubted many would play the Sevilla frontman in a starring role. But, of all the games that Spain manager Vicente del Bosque could have debuted Negredo in at Euro 2012, there exists no answer for why it was in the semi-finals against Portugal and not in the group stage matches against Italy, Ireland or Croatia.
There, simply, was no role for Negredo: with Portugal pressing from the very outset and closing down any Spanish player on the ball, the options to provide service were limited and the available paths to do so were on the wrong side of challenging. And since Portugal had the same number of centre-midfielders that Spain – nominally — did, the omission of Cesc Fàbregas as a false-nine made Portugal’s harrying of Spain’s midfield all the more cogent.
To make matters worse for the defending Euro champions, employing the wrong striker wasn’t even Del Bosque’s only mistake in his starting eleven. Continue reading »