Vicente del Bosque

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Del Bosque says he is done as Spain boss after EURO ouster

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Vicente del Bosque has stepped down from his post as Spain national manager after a terrific run in charge of La Furia Roja.

Del Bosque, 65, led Spain to the 2010 World Cup and the EURO 2012 title, winning 75 percent of his matches. Spain allowed just 79 goals in 114 games in charge.

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But Spain failed to escape the group stage at the 2014 World Cup, and Del Bosque oversaw a Round of 16 loss to Italy at this year’s EURO.

Many figured it would be the end of his time with Spain, and now he’s confirmed it.

From the BBC:

“Without a doubt, I have no intention to remain as coach, but you have to be discrete. No matter what the result of the Euros, I had no doubt about what my future would be,” he told Spanish public radio RNE.

Quite a run for the legendary Real Madrid player and coach. Who’s next? Could Luis Enrique be talked into it?

EURO 2016: Why’s Del Bosque not giving Spain’s youngsters many chances?

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SAINT-MARTIN-DE-RE, France (AP) The young players considered the future of Spanish soccer have not been getting many chances to show their potential at the European Championship.

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Coach Vicente Del Bosque has been revamping Spain after the debacle at the 2014 World Cup but has preferred to stick to more experienced players at Euro 2016.

Most of the youngsters he brought to France have not played a major role for the two-time defending champions so far, and it’s unlikely many will be on the field when Spain faces Italy in the tournament’s round of 16 on Monday at Stade de France.

Goalkeeper David De Gea and striker Alvaro Morata are the only “new generation” players to have started in the team’s first three matches. Of the other six players in the squad who are 25 or younger, only midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion got to play a few minutes off the bench. Yet to play are defenders Marc Bartra and Hector Bellerin, as well as forward Lucas Vazquez and third-string goalkeeper Sergio Rico.

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“It hurts that I’m not able to use players such as Koke, Thiago and Bartra more often,” said Del Bosque, who has favored the veterans from Spain’s recent triumphs and older players who are relatively new to the national team but certainly aren’t part of the country’s new generation, including 31-year-old Juanfran Torres and 29-year-old Manuel “Nolito” Agudo.

The coach brought 14 players with less than 25 international appearances, but only five are younger than 25 years old.

Some of the main players of Spain’s highly successful generation from recent years have already retired from the national team, including Carles Puyol, Xabi Alonso, David Villa and Xavi Hernandez. Some didn’t even make it to France, like striker Fernando Torres.

The fate of those still on the squad, like Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Iker Casillas, who are all 30 or older, is yet to be decided. The 35-year-old Casillas, Spain’s most experienced player with 167 caps, has already lost his starting position in goal.

[ MORE: Predicting the knockout rounds of EURO 2016 ]

“We used to have a team with a lot of quality players, and now we have one with other quality players,” defender Sergio Ramos said. “The goal is to keep winning, even if we have less experienced players.”

Many expected Del Bosque to give some of the youngsters a chance to play in last Tuesday’s game against Croatia, when Spain had already secured a spot in the knockout stage, but the coach fielded the same 11 from the first two games.

When he brought in players from the bench in the group stage matches, he favored older players such as 35-year-old striker Aritz Aduriz and 32-year-old midfielder Bruno Soriano.

Of the youngsters on the bench, Alcantara is the one with the most playing time. He came on as a substitute for 23 minutes in the 1-0 opening win against the Czech Republic, and for 10 minutes in the 2-1 loss to Croatia in the team’s third group match. Koke played 21 minutes in the 3-0 win over Turkey in the second match.

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Spain won the last two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup, but is coming off early elimination in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which marked the first sign that its winning generation was starting to falter.

“What the youngsters bring to the team is quality,” Iniesta said. “That is what is important, regardless of their age. “There are always changes in a team, but you have to try to keep the winning mentality. We still have a great squad.”

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni

Spain will stick to its possession game at Euro 2016

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SAINT-MARTIN-DE-RE, France (AP) Spain is going to stick to its game of quick passing and ball possession.

One game into the European Championship and it’s obvious that the two-time defending champions are not changing their style despite their World Cup debacle two years ago, when the tiki-taka failed and Spain didn’t make it past the group stage.

When the team plays Turkey on Friday in Nice in its second Group D match, Spain will be using the same formula that worked to perfection when it won the last two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup – keeping control of the ball and being aggressive with the final pass near the opponent’s goal.

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The strategy didn’t do much against the tight defensive scheme of the Czech Republic in the opener on Monday, when it needed a late goal to earn a 1-0 victory, but the match against the more offensive Turkish team should play to Spain’s advantage.

“There are several ways of playing the game and they are all valid,” Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara said. “It could be like they (the Czech Republic) played or by pressuring more up front. We have our own style and will use it to try to win the games.”

The Spanish had 67 percent of ball possession against the Czechs in Toulouse, the most of any team at Euro 2016 until then. They exchanged 694 passes with an effectiveness of 91 percent. They had 17 attempts and didn’t score more goals only because of a combination of poor finishing and a great performance by Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech.

“We haven’t done too bad in the last few years with this style,” said Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, who has kept the same formula despite having to revamp the Spanish squad after several top players began to fade.

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Spain will have a chance to secure a spot in the quarterfinals with a win or even a draw against Turkey, depending on the result of the earlier Group D game between Croatia and the Czech Republic. Spain and Croatia lead the group with three points each after opening 1-0 victories.

Spain hasn’t lost to Turkey in more than 60 years, since World Cup qualifying in 1954. It will be the team’s first meeting at a major tournament.

Turkey, which was a semifinalist at Euro 2008 but missed the tournament in 2012, needs to rebound from the disappointing performance against Croatia to maintain its chances of advancing to the knockout stage.

Coach Fatih Terim had two absences in training this week because, midfielder Mehmet Topal with a right leg injury and defender Gokhan Gonul with a stomach ailment. It was unclear if they would be ready in time to face the Spaniards at Stade de Nice.

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni

Spain leaves Diego Costa out for Italy, Romania friendlies

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MADRID (AP) — Diego Costa has been left off the Spain squad because of an injury, coach Vicente del Bosque said Friday.

Del Bosque announced his squad for upcoming friendlies against Italy and Romania.

“Diego came off from a match with an injury in his quadriceps muscle but four days later, because Chelsea had much at stake, he was made to play again and finished in some pain,” Del Bosque said. “Although the doctors said he was getting better, we have opted not to include him.”

On Saturday, Costa was sent off in Chelsea’s FA Cup loss to Everton for “improper conduct.” He was given a second yellow card after thrusting his head toward Gareth Barry before appearing to make a biting motion on the side of the midfielder’s neck. Both players later said there was no bite.

Del Bosque said Costa’s behavior was not a cause of concern.

“There are two months to go before I choose my final squad for the European Championship and absolutely no one, not even Diego Costa, is currently excluded,” Del Bosque said.

Costa’s place in attack was taken by Aritz Aduriz, who scored a hat trick in Athletic Bilbao’s 4-1 win over Deportivo La Coruna and then clinched his team’s Europa League win with an away goal against Valencia.

De Bosque said playmaker Andres Iniesta had also been left out because of a muscle problem.

“He had discomfort and we considered it appropriate not to include him,” Del Bosque said.

Spain travels to the Italian city of Udine for the match on March 24, then goes to Cluj in Romania three days later.

Spain:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (FC Porto), David De Gea (Manchester United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla)

Defenders: Marc Bartra (Barcelona), Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Nacho Fernandez (Real Sociedad), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Mario Gaspar (Villarreal)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao), Isco Alarcon (Real Madrid), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Juan Mata (Manchester United)

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Chelsea), Paco Alcacer (Valencia), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao), Manuel “Nolito” Agudo (Celta Vigo)

Barca’s Luis Enrique interested in Spain job

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What a difference a year makes. About 12 months ago, Barcelona manager Luis Enrique was fending off questions about his job safety.

Now he’s fending off questions about his next job.

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Quizzed about his interest in the Spain job once Vicente Del Bosque retires after Euro 2016, Enrique gave quite a committal (so-to-speak).

From the BBC:

Asked if he wanted to replace the 2010 World Cup winner, Enrique said: “Yes, I would like that a lot.”

What do you think? Is the 45-year-old boss the right kind of man for the head Spanish job?

Certainly he has the ego-handling part down after last year’s reported “struggles” with Lionel Messi. They only went on to win Europe. And he’s managed a group of underdogs to success with Celta Vigo as well.

Spain could do much, much worse.