Spain have added Raul Albiol to the group of players on standby to plug holes in Luis Enrique’s Euro 2020 squad if COVID-19 strikes any further blows. Captain Sergio Busquets tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday and was taken away from the national team training camp, although it is hoped he will be able to return.
Subsequent tests on remaining players and staff have all showed up negative results, but Spain are erring on the side of caution by ensuring they have suitable reinforcements if needed. That is why versatile Villarreal defender Albiol, a 56-cap international who won the Europa League with his club side last month, comes into the picture at the age of 35.
With the senior squad in isolation and training individually, it will be a Spain Under-21 team who line up in a friendly against Lithuania on Tuesday, but senior caps will be awarded.
It was also announced on Monday that Leeds United forward Rodrigo Moreno and three midfielders in West Ham’s Pablo Fornals, Valencia’s Carlos Soler and Celta Vigo’s Brais Mendez would be called in to train in a ‘parallel bubble’, being ready to step in should Luis Enrique’s squad be depleted.
72% – Sergio #Busquets 🇪🇸 has won 88 of his 123 international games for Spain (72%), the best winning ratio between the Spanish players called to play the next European Championships Finals with at least five games played. Essential pic.twitter.com/2tfbuFCQUQ
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 7, 2021
Spain’s opening game against Sweden at Euro 2020 takes place on June 14 in Seville. While the senior squad suck up the blow of missing out on a final international before the tournament begins, Spain Under-21 boss Luis de la Fuente will give his youngsters a “dream” outing.
De la Fuente said in a news conference: “This does not change the way I work, nor my responsibility and my professionalism. The players, like me, will be very excited to represent Spain. For us it is a great dream. I guarantee that the players and the coaching staff are only think about winning.”
He said the match day would be “a beautiful day because the boys are going to show their potential”.