Alcacer out to make full use of second chance

Borussia Dortmund striker Paco Alcacer last played for Spain in March 2016 and has six goals in 13 appearances.
Borussia Dortmund striker Paco Alcacer last played for Spain in March 2016 and has six goals in 13 appearances.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID • Borussia Dortmund striker Paco Alcacer says he is ready to seize the chance to grab Spain's No. 9 shirt after returning to the national team following a two-year absence.

With Atletico Madrid star Diego Costa still out injured, Spain coach Luis Enrique has added Alcacer to an attacking line-up that already features Alvaro Morata (Chelsea), Rodrigo (Valencia) and Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo) for upcoming games with Wales and England.

Although expecting a battle to even start, Alcacer - who has seven goals in four matches for Dortmund since joining on loan following an unhappy spell at parent club Barcelona - is determined to grab his opportunity.

It might help his case that the No. 9 shirt, currently worn by Rodrigo, has found no permanent takers in recent years.

"I'm very proud to be here. It's the reward for all the work I've put in since the start of the season," he told the media from Spain's training base outside Madrid.

The 25-year-old last played for Spain in March 2016 and has six goals in 13 appearances.

Despite being recalled by Enrique, who kept him on the bench for much of his time at Barcelona, Alcacer added: "At Barcelona, it was very difficult because you're up against the likes of Luis (Suarez), Leo (Messi), Ousmane (Dembele) and Philippe (Coutinho), all top-quality strikers.

"Luis Enrique is a very professional coach, very direct. He explains things clearly, what he wants and what he doesn't want."

Spain face Wales - whose injured star Gareth Bale is ruled out - away in a friendly today before meeting England in the Uefa Nations League on Monday.

Since their shock World Cup round-of-16 exit against Russia, the Spaniards have got back on track under Enrique in the Nations League with a 2-1 win against England and a 6-0 rout of World Cup finalists Croatia.

He has hinted that he will tinker with his squad today ahead of Monday's clash against Gareth Southgate's side.

"The vital one is England," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2018, with the headline 'Alcacer out to make full use of second chance'. Print Edition | Subscribe