Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has indicated that he will deploy three forwards from the start of Sunday’s Euro 2012 final against Italy.
The 61-year-old has shown variety in his selections during the tournament, utilising Cesc Fabregas as a ‘false nine’ on several occasions and also opting for Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Torres as more traditional centre forwards.
And though the Barcelona midfielder made the starting XI for the group match against Italy, Del Bosque has now given a strong indication that the 25-year-old may start the final on the bench.
“We will play with three strikers, but all the team have to help them,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Saturday.
“These three players will have the obligation to attack and to try to score a goal. We have more obligation to attack than to defend.”
Italy are known for their defensive approach to football, but Del Bosque does not expect Cesare Prandelli’s side to play ‘Catenaccio’ on Sunday.
“This next game is the most important one, we will play for something we have been working on for two years,” he said.
“We would all like to secure a victory.
“Italy have been on the rise and they deserve to be in the final.
“We cannot say that Italy played defensive football against us in the group game because they did not. They have made progress in recent years.”
Spain enter Sunday’s final as favourites after winning Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, but the Spaniard insists the game will be a close contest.
“I think we cannot look at the past,” the former Real Madrid boss said.
“Italy have won the World Cup four times, and we are talking about the present, which is the only reference.
“We were in the same group, we have both won matches on penalties and our playing style has been similar. That is why I do not think there will be a big difference.
“If our players have lost the desire to win? We haven’t noticed symptoms of that happening.
“Success can weaken the future, but we have a group of players that know what this sport is and we have not lost our competitive spirit.”
Del Bosque withdrew midfield lynchpin Xavi during his side’s draw with Portugal in the semi-final but has defended the Barcelona playmaker following criticism of his performance.
“It is very rare for Xavi to have a bad game,” Del Bosque said.
“He contributes with his talent, his quality, he does a lot of team work and he dictates our style of play.”