Iglesias could solve Spain's strike woes

BARCELONA - With the days ticking down until the World Cup, Spain are still searching for a striker they can trust to lead the line - and La Roja to glory.

Enter Borja Iglesias. The Real Betis forward has been included in the squad for Spain's Nations League games against Switzerland on Saturday and Portugal next Tuesday, and could be the answer to his team's long-term problem.

David Villa finished as the top scorer at Euro 2008 and was the joint top scorer at the 2010 World Cup, while Fernando Torres was joint top scorer at Euro 2012, all of which Spain swept in an era of glittering success but those days are long gone.

Since then, they have failed to win a major trophy, leaving supporters pining for the goals of Villa and Torres, or even iconic duo Raul Gonzalez and Fernando Morientes.

Spain convinced Brazilian-born Diego Costa to switch allegiance, have tried a striker-less 4-6-0 formation in subsequent years, along with using players like Ferran Torres as a false nine, and played Alvaro Morata and Gerard Moreno up front but nothing has worked.

Curiously, coach Luis Enrique has not leaned on Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas, the top Spanish scorer in La Liga in four of the past six seasons, with Morata and Moreno his favoured options, despite the criticism aimed at the misfiring pair.

There is still an opportunity for a player to take the situation by the scruff of the neck and the "Panda" may be the man to do it.

Iglesias, whose nickname comes from the hip-hop song Panda by American rapper Desiigner, is strong, hard for defences to handle and has an eye for goal.

With six goals in La Liga this season, only Barcelona's summer arrival from Bayern Munich, Robert Lewandowski, has scored more.

Iglesias is a late bloomer. In September, he earned his first call-up and while he could make his international debut against Switzerland at the age of 29, having never been capped at any level for Spain, he is not feeling the pressure.

"When I first turned up for tests, I was a lot more nervous, but now I'm enjoying it a lot," he said. "I don't feel examined. It's a chance to show close-up what I can do, to try to bring to the group what I have."

His dream is to do enough during this international window to get the call come November and board the flight to Qatar.

"My intention is to bring what I can to the team, to learn, and we will see what happens in the future, but I will try to do everything I can to have a chance (of going to the World Cup)," added the 1.87m target man.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2022, with the headline Iglesias could solve Spain's strike woes. Subscribe