Commentary

No space for David Villa in Spain frontline

Apparently, ringing up goals in MLS counts as much for Spain as it does for Italy, which is basically not at all.

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is among the players recalled by Spain national team coach Julen Lopetegui for games against Macedonia and England next week, but not summoned is New York City FC forward David Villa.

The squad is missing Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba and Javi Martinez because of injuries, and along with Mata, Lopetegui has brought back Aritz Arudiz -- scorer of five goals for Athletic Bilbao in a 5-3 defeat of Genk in the Europa League on Thursday --– as well as Cesar Azpilicueta, Sergio Asenjo and Marc Bartra.

During the 2016 MLS season. Villa finished second to Bradley Wright-Phillips in the Golden Boot race, 24 goals to 23, but has suffered the same fate as Italian Sebastian Giovinco, passed over by Italy despite two dazzling seasons in MLS.

Villa, 34, has scored 59 goals in 97 appearances for Spain since debuting in 2005 but last played for his country at the 2014 World Cup.

Spain hosts Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier a week from Saturday and then heads to Wembley to play England in a friendly Nov. 15.

Mata’s club teammates David de Gea and Ander Herrera have also been called as Lopetegui continues the job of rebuilding Spain, which won its first world title in between back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012, but stumbled out of the 2014 World Cup after group play and last June fell to Italy, 2-0, in the Euros round of 16.

Herrera is in line for his first cap. He was called up for matches against Italy and Albania last month but didn’t play. Sevilla defender Sergio Escudero is in a squad for the first time. Mata’s former Chelsea teammate Diego Costa has been summoned but not midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Also excluded is yet another Chelsea player, Pedro, as well as veteran keeper Iker Casillas.

“The 25-man list is to cover all possible absentees we could have,” Lopetegui said. “We’ve total confidence in the players we’ve chosen. Aduriz achieved something difficult but we already had him in our minds before that game. He’s doing very well, has had good games, and he gives us alternatives. Every player up front is different, but they can all fit in with the way we have of attacking.”

The recall of Aduriz, 35, prompted questions about Villa, who is Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer and has tallied 43 goals in 66 MLS games.

“We have no problem bringing in older players,” Lopetegui said. “In the case of David Villa, he is playing in another league and is at a good level. He is being competitive and scoring but we’ve understood the strikers we had to bring in were those we have. We are happy with the squad that we have and it’s been chosen to help us try to claim victory in both games.”
 
Spain Roster:
GOALKEEPERS: Pepe Reina (Napoli/ITA), David De Gea (Man. United/ENG), Sergio Asenjo (Villarreal).
DEFENDERS: Nacho (Real Madrid), Marc Bartra (Bor. Dortmund/GER), Javi Martinez (Real Sociedad), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea/ENG), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal/ENG), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Sergio Escudero (Sevilla), Sergio Roberto (Barcelona).
MIDFIELDERS: Ander Herrera (Man. United/ENG), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Isco (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantra (Bayern Munich/GER), David Silva (Man. City/ENG), Juan Mata (Man. United/ENG), Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid).
FORWARDS: Jose Callejon (Napoli/ITA), Vitolo (Sevilla); Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Diego Costa (Chelsea/ENG), Nolito (Man. City/ENG), Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao).
                                         
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