Del Bosque: Busquets a worthy torch bearer to Xavi

Speaking at the Aspire Academy in Doha, Del Bosque hailed the 27-year-old Busquets as a worthy torch bearer to the previous generation of Spanish midfielders led by Xavi, a four time Champions League winner with Barcelona currently playing for Qatar Stars League side Al Sadd.

Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque admits that the indifferent form of his Chelsea-based players – Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Pedro and Cesar Azpilicueta – is a source of concern for the national side.   -  REUTERS

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque believes Sergio Busquets of Barcelona is the best defensive midfielder in the world and that his contribution, along with that of Xavi Hernandez, served as the bulwark for his team’s march to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Speaking at the Aspire Academy in Doha, Del Bosque hailed the 27-year-old Busquets as a worthy torch bearer to the previous generation of Spanish midfielders led by Xavi, a four time Champions League winner with Barcelona currently playing for Qatar Stars League side Al Sadd.

Busquets will play a crucial role in next summer’s European Championships in France as Del Bosque’s Spain look to defend the crown they won in 2012. It will be a tough task, according to the 64-year-old former Real Madrid manager, who admits that the indifferent form of his Chelsea-based players – Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Pedro and Cesar Azpilicueta – is a source of concern.

“For the last international call-up we had four Chelsea players. However, we still have four months until our next friendlies in March, and a little more longer to go for the Euro, and we value them as much as all the others. We will try to bring the best to France,” Del Bosque said.

However, Busquets’ current form comes as the beacon of hope for his national coach. He has started all five of Barcelona’s Champions League Group E matches this season propelling Luis Enrique’s team to the top of the group even as the Catalans travel to Bayer Leverkusen in Wednesday for a largely academic final group game for the defending champions.

The Blaugrana’s midfield pivot has also started all 14 La Liga matches this season helping the holders open up a slender two-point lead at the top of the standings ahead of 2013-14 champions Atletico Madrid.

 

However, it is Busquets’ determined display in South Africa under the guidance of midfield counterpart Xavi which remains etched in Del Bosque’s memory.

“I’ve had no doubts about Busquets since winning in 2010. We can’t forget that he was attacked heavily during our opening game against Switzerland, which we lost, and we stood the test. We believed in him, and he showed us that we were right.”

Del Bosque, who replicated his title 2010 triumph two years later in Poland and Ukraine, also lauded the role played by Busquets’ mentor, Xavi, in South Africa.

“We had some difficult moments in 2010 including our defeat against Switzerland,” said the 64-year-old who won two European and league crowns as Real Madrid manager between 1999 and 2003. “A World Cup win is not easy. There are many great teams and we were fortunate we could count on a generation of very good players led by Xavi. He was the leader not just on the pitch but also off it in terms of ensuring good inter-personal relationships.”

Del Bosque, who navigated a youthful Spain through the EURO 2016 qualifiers following a disappointing first round exit in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, said he is optimistic Busquets will take on Xavi’s midfield leadership mantle in France.

“Sergio and Xavi are different type of players. But Sergio is certainly a midfielder who will lead the team like Xavi did. And, of course, we still have Iniesta, David Silva, Fabregas and Santi Cazorla. All these players have served us well and are still very good. We also have the young Thiago [Alcantara] and Koke.”

The youthful Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid duo are tipped to be Spain’s midfield engine room for the future.

Courtesy Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy

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