One man who won’t be happy to see a pause in proceedings is Rayo Vallecano striker Alberto Bueno who has been in scintillating form since the turn of the year.
The former Derby man, who will turn 27 next weekend, is the top scoring Spaniard in La Liga with 15 strikes for the season. He’s scored in five of his last seven games, including an incredible four in the win over Levante at the end of February.
With national team selection just one week away, Bueno will be hopeful of a first call-up to Vicente Del Boque’s squad. However, the Spanish selectors have preferred to give younger prospects playing time since the World Cup disgrace, those such as Rodrigo Moreno, Paco Alcacer, Alvaro Morata, Gerard Deulofeu, Sandro and Munir.
Alongside those younger stars, Bueno will be up against Diego Costa and Pedro to make the strikers contingent. On top of that, Fernando Torres, Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Llorente and Nolito have all been included in Del Bosque’s squad in the past. There’s plenty of competition in this Spanish squad despite them having recently dropped out of the top 10 in the FIFA World rankings – one example of this is the fact that Isco has just six caps to his name!
A factor that will boost Bueno’s chances however is that players such as Callejon and Nolito have been drafted into the squad despite their ages (both 28).
Like Callejon, Bueno is a Castilla product from Real Madrid (Nolito a La Masia graduate) and received a thorough education in the Spanish youth teams. He understands the way Spain play and will share the mentalities of every other member of the squad, with the possible exception of Costa.
This upbringing may convince Del Bosque to pick Bueno after having to deliberate over the selection of Michu a few years ago. The former Rayo man had never represented Spain at any level, but eventually merited a cap when rocked by a striker injury crisis.
In light of Michu’s debut, Bueno would feel incredibly hard done by to not make the squad, though it would be understandable if a younger prospect made it ahead of him. Spain are in a transitional stage and have yet to retain a stable platform to mount their Euro 2016 challenge – proven by a defeat to Slovakia in October.
The games versus Ukraine and the Netherlands are likely to be perfect for Diego Costa, or perhaps not even one striker, as Spain often prefer. Regardless of Del Bosque’s preferred formation, Bueno’s rich league form fully deserves the chance to win a first Spanish cap and impress the national team manager.