Spain’s reliance on a core of F.C. Barcelona players in Fifa’s Confederationa Cup, to maintain their style of play and dominance of the international game, would appear to have set back the doom mongerers that had brought about the end of the Catalan giant’ golden era.
Not only does la selección boast 9 players in the squad at the World Cup warm up tournament, but 7 are expected to start tonight’s final. Facing la Roja tonight will be Dani Alves and the recently signed Neymar, taking Barça’s presence in the showpiece up to 11 players.
Raul Sanllehi, Barcelona’s Director for Football Management Area, is in Brazil for the final and is expected to sound out Thiago Silva’s agent, Paolo Tonietto, and the player himself about a possible move away from Paris to the Catalan capital, a move that Barca attempted last summer and may well wish to complete this close season.
The 7 players expected to start for Spain tonight should all remain at the La Liga Champions for the next campaign. Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Xavi Hernández, Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Cesc Fàbegas and Pedro Rodríguez will all have an important part to play for the blaugrana next year. Interestingly, however, the two that will probably be on the bench look to be on their way out of Tito Vilanova’s dressing room.
Victor Valdés and David Villa could well be plying their trade for new clubs come the start of season 2013/14. Valdés stated earlier this summer that he wished to see out the remaining year of his contract and would leave in the summer of 2014. However, there are strong rumours that Barça may look for a replacement and seek to offload Valdés in order to receive a fee for the outgoing Catalan goalkeeper.
There would certainly be no shortage of suitors for the keeper who has vast experience of playing at the top level for many years and a number of Premiership clubs have been linked with the Catalan stopper inluding Arsenal and Liverpool, the latter being mentioned in a swap deal with former Barça keeper Pepe Reina.
David Villa is another whose future is less than certain. An horrific leg break suffered in the FIFA Club World Championship of has robbed him of a starting berth at the Camp Nou.
Not only has Villa seen his stock fall due to Tito Vilanova’s preference for Pedro and Alexis Sánchez up front with the irreplacable Lionel Messi, and at times playing Iniesta on the left flank, but the emergence of Cristian Tello has pushed him even further down the pecking order. The fact that Cesc Fàbregas appears to be the natural false 9 replacement at club and international level has only compounded his situation. The signing of the Brazilian Neymar would appear to have closed the door.
As with Valdés, there is no shortage of admirers for Spain’s all time top goalscorer. A number of clubs in Italy have been linked with a move, but the strongest candidates for his signature would appear to be Atlético de Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.
Diego Simeone is on the lookout for a recognised name to replace Radamel Falcao after his move to Monaco. A number of Spanish players have been mentioned for the frontman role at the Vicente Calderón, three standout. Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo and Villa have all been mentioned to wear the red and white stripes of the Copa del Rey winners in the next campaign.
Villa, however, may well opt for a switch to the Premiership. Franco Baldini, Spurs new technical Director is expected to meet with Villa’s representatives after the Confederations Cup. At 31 Villa does not represent an ideal buy for Spurs with the potential to sell him on and at £12 million Baldini will look to reduce the transfer fee.
As much as the starting line up for Spain in the final would appear to represent the current situation at F.C. Barcelona, whoever starts tonight will be fighting against a young, ambitious Brazilian side who will not want to let themselves down in front of a partizan home crowd who have booed virtually every touch of the ball from a Spanish boot.
Will it be Neymar’s hour, or can Spain add the only title to their honours list that still eludes them? From 23:00 tonight, the world will find out.