Spain's goalscoring 'shark' scenting blood at Euro

29 May 2012 03:16:55

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Two years after missing the final cut for a place in Spain's World Cup squad, Alvaro Negredo will finally get the chance to experience a major international tournament and may have a key role to play at Euro 2012.

The 26-year-old Sevilla striker -- nicknamed "The Shark" -- will compete with Fernando Llorente and Fernando Torres for a place in Spain's starting line-up.

He has been rewarded for two consistent seasons at club level, with his 20-goal tally in 2009-10 being followed by 14 goals in La Liga in the season just finished.

A powerful and pugnacious player, Negredo also scored five times in his first six appearances for La Roja -- another factor that worked in his favour as Vicente del Bosque opted to name him in his final 23-man squad over Valencia's Roberto Soldado.

Soldado scored 17 goals in La Liga for Valencia in 2011-12 but most of those came in the first half of the season.

Negredo and Soldado are former team-mates: they began their careers together in the Real Madrid youth set-up, although at the time it was Soldado -- three months Negredo's senior -- who appeared destined for greater things.

Soldado eventually moved on, joining Osasuna on loan in 2006, allowing Negredo to seize his chance to lead the line for Castilla, Real Madrid's second team.

Neither player became established in the first team at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, and Soldado was sold to Getafe in 2008 before joining Valencia in 2010.

Negredo initially made an impact in the top flight during a two-year loan spell with Almeria before signing for Sevilla in 2009.

This season Soldado was La Liga's top-scoring Spaniard -- level with Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente -- and also netted a hat-trick in Spain's 5-0 friendly win against Venezuela in February.

However, Negredo found form at the right time, netting eight goals in his last 10 league games for a Sevilla side that finished an underwhelming ninth.

"They are two extraordinary players, both different: Soldado plays right on the shoulder of the last defender, which gives him a similar profile to Torres, while Negredo and Llorente both bring different things," Del Bosque explained.

At 1m 86cm (6ft 1in), Negredo is, perhaps crucially, a genuine aerial threat.

But he is also excellent inside the opposition penalty area and wins points for his unflinching commitment.

Del Bosque paired Soldado and Negredo together in attack in the first half of Spain's 2-0 win against Serbia in La Roja's final friendly before naming his squad and the latter did more to impress, even if he failed to find the net.

Negredo is likely to be used as a back-up in Poland and Ukraine but he has an almighty chasm to fill -- that of David Villa.

Spain's all-time leading scorer with 51 international goals misses Euro 2012 having failed to regain fitness after breaking a leg last December.

Negredo will be hungry to show what he can do having been handed the chance to prove himself at the very highest level.

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