Spain drops David Villa, Fernando Torres for Italy friendly

Brazilian-born forward Diego Costa was called up by Spain on Friday for next week's friendly against Italy, and veteran strikers David Villa and Fernando Torres were not wanted.

Diego Costa called up

Spanish national team veterans David Villa and Fernando Torres are shown celebrating a goal in a late 2010 match. (Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press)

Brazilian-born forward Diego Costa was called up by Spain on Friday for next week's friendly against Italy, and veteran strikers David Villa and Fernando Torres were not wanted.

Dropping Villa and Torres for Wednesday's match at Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid does not mean they will not make the squad for the World Cup, coach Vicente del Bosque said.

"This list is exclusively for the game against Italy," Del Bosque said after announcing his 22 players. "There are three months left of competition, and many things can happen to convince us to bring other players. We don't close the door to anything."

Spain part of North American series ahead of World Cup

Spain will play an exhibition game against El Salvador on June 7 at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., before heading to the World Cup in Brazil.

Seven matches involving six World Cup teams were announced Friday by Soccer United Marketing, an affiliate of Major League Soccer.

Spain's game will be part of a doubleheader that includes an MLS match between D.C. United and Columbus, originally scheduled for RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Honduras plays Israel on June 1 at Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium, and Greece and Nigeria meet June 3 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Ivory Coast faces El Salvador on June 4 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, and Greece plays Bolivia on June 6 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

Diego Costa, a naturalized Spanish citizen, was summoned for a pair of November friendlies, but injury kept the Atletico Madrid striker sidelined.

"I'm very happy to have been called up," Diego Costa said. "Besides, it will be very special to play Italy in our stadium, the Vicente Calderon."

He has been at the centre of a few ill-tempered encounters with Real Madrid players, soon to be his new teammates in the national side.

Del Bosque said he wasn't concerned, adding that the latest run-ins were not as serious as the tension between Barcelona and Madrid players from recent years that didn't stop Spain from winning the World Cup and two European Championships.

"We don't make a big deal of it," the former Madrid manager said. "We know that there are conflicts, but I don't think it is the same case [as Barcelona and Madrid]. There was a recent match between Madrid and Atletico and no incidents occurred."

Del Bosque said Italy was Spain's "last great test" before he names his final 23-man World Cup squad on May 25.

Spain will play Bolivia in a friendly on May 30 and then take on El Salvador on June 7 in the United States before it faces the Netherlands in its opening World Cup match on June 13.

While Del Bosque was adamant that he has yet to pick his final squad, the group he has chosen to face Italy appears to indicate he may opt to rejuvenate a side that lost handily to Brazil in the final of last year's Confederations Cup.

Even so, the squad is still loaded with midfielders, meaning Spain's control-based passing style won't change.

Besides Diego Costa, Del Bosque will have only Alvaro Negredo and Pedro Rodriguez as traditional forwards with Villa, Spain's all-time leading scorer, and Torres left at home.

Del Bosque summoned the young Bayern Munich pair of Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez, while Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta returned for the first time since the Confederations Cup.

Juan Mata and Alvaro Arbeloa were also dropped. Gerard Pique was unavailable due to injury, while Barcelona teammate Carles Puyol was left out as he struggles to return from nagging injuries.



Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Napoli)

Defenders: Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Jesus Navas (Manchester City), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)


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