Vicente del Bosque has decided to play with a striker against Portugal, but it's not the striker that most expected. Fernando Torres, the striker who has started whenever del Bosque has played with a striker is out of the starting XI. Instead Álvaro Negredo gets the nod, pushing Torres to the bench despite Negredo having played just one minute at Euro 2012.
A two-goal performance against overmatched Ireland aside, Torres hasn't been particularly impressive so his being passed over isn't a complete shock. He followed up that match against Ireland with one against Croatia in which he was nearly invisible and didn't do much to impress off of the bench in the quarterfinals against France.
The choice to go with Negredo might surprise some, though. The Sevilla striker is good (obviously, if he can make the Spain team), but he doesn't have much international experience and his one minute earlier in the tournament isn't going to change that.
Then again, neither does the other striker on the team, Fernando Llorente, who has just 30 minutes off of the bench in the 2010 World Cup to his name. That half-hour did come against Portugal, though. Some might prefer Llorente to Negredo anyways, turning to their goal scoring records at the club level as proof of Llorente's superiority.
But del Bosque clearly favors Negredo. It will give the Spain team a different look than the striker-less one we saw versus France and will appease those who hated seeing the Spaniards pass the ball in circles without a single player anywhere near the goal. At least with Negredo, Spain will have someone near the goal. Whether the ball finds him in an actual attacking move from the midfield is a whole other issue.
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