When David Villa went down awkwardly during the World Club Cup semi-final against Al-Sadd, Pep Guardiola’s heart would’ve skipped a beat. But Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque might well have broken some crockery in his house.
Barcelona have enough players to replace him, not as an out-and-out striker but he hardly ever played in that position for the Catalans.
In the claret and blue stripes, he was given a role slightly on the left of the conservative centre forward’s position. This is because whenever an attack broke from either flank, the opposite side’s winger always filled the hole of striker in the box.
But in the current Barcelone line-up, there was only one player who was solely picked in the squad for his finishing skills, and that was David Villa. It is still a worry which should not hound Guardiola a lot, because Pedro Rodriguez, Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi can all contribute up front.
Not to mention the recent use of Cesc Fabregas as a striker which has reaped dividends for the ex-Arsenal captain, who has racked up 10 goals and six assists in 19 appearances for the youth team.
But it’s a completely different picture when you consider the Spanish national team.
David Villa, for a long time has been their talisman up front – irreplaceable, indispensable and an automatic selection. His record of 51 goals in 82 international games just goes on to prove that.
What del Bosque will be thinking right now is about replacements, and he cannot see farther than the fractured cast of Villa.
Fernando Torres was a cult figure at Atletico Madrid. His time at Liverpool, which saw him score 72 goals in 116 games, made his image as a world class striker even brighter. But then Chelsea happened and it was almost as if the whole Andriy Shevchenko episode was being replayed.
A desperate buy for Roman Abramovich, Torres came at a cost of ₤50 million. His mission was to quench the unquenchable thirst of the Russian owner to win the European Champions League.
And it was nothing short of muck being thrown on their faces when ₤6 million signing Javier Hernandez helped Manchester United knock the Blues out of the competition.
His scoring record is so bad that there was a website called hasfernandotorresscoredforchelsea.com and for a long time the only thing written on it was NO. It is still there and all it says is YES (but it took him 14 matches and a rainy pitch to do so).
His below-par form has continued on the international stage too — he’s scored just 12 in 46 for Spain since 2008, and Del Bosque will think twice before picking him.
Next in line is Fernando Llorente. The 6’5” striker who plays for Athletic Bilbao has had a good season so far, netting seven goals in 13 appearances. But playing alongside the midfield of Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas will need a very mobile player and his build is not suited to that sort of game. Unless, of course, their manager finds a way to play him as a target man.
Roberto Soldado of Valencia could finally break into the national side. He hasn’t yet played for them and is in good scoring form.
It will be interesting to see how Spain line-up during the Euros if Villa doesn’t make it to the side on time.
With sports medical facilities at an all-time high and a lot of incentive available for the 30-year old to make a comeback, we might see a return sooner than the expected five months.
But Villa is not young anymore. We all know what an incredible striker Eduardo was touted to be… until he got injured and was never the same. Players go in less hard into tackles, they get wary and it takes at least a couple of months to get going after a return.
And as the hard facts go, Eduardo had also broken his tibia.
Just like Villa.