5 Players Spain Should Axe Ahead of Euro 2016 Qualification

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2014

5 Players Spain Should Axe Ahead of Euro 2016 Qualification

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    Del Bosque has tough choices to make.
    Del Bosque has tough choices to make.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Spain need a refresh and you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

    As a new side emerges from the wreckage of their World Cup 2014 title bid, there will be casualties.

    Legendary players will need to be dropped to let younger ones find their feet.

    Here are five big names that should be shed for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and beyond.

The End for Fernando Torres

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    Torres scored against Australia. Yes, really.
    Torres scored against Australia. Yes, really.Michael Sohn/Associated Press

    The story of Fernando Torres is a sad one.

    Nobody knows exactly what happened or how, but the common theory is that injuries took his pace away and scratched away at his confidence.

    For the last few years, he has looked good only in fits and starts, and they have been few and far between.

    Rafa Benitez has been the only manager to be able to get him scoring with any degree of regularity, and almost all of those goals were in meaningless games.

    It is a real shame that a player of Torres' talent should be stricken on the rocks of fate in such an awkward fashion, and don't his club Chelsea know it.

    After showing no real signs of life for around three years, it's time for Spain to let Torres slip off into the night.

Farewell and Good Luck to Xavi

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    Time for Xavi to hand over the bib?
    Time for Xavi to hand over the bib?Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    In the past few weeks, everything that needs to be said about Xavi has been.

    He is a legend, a key piece of the clockwork behind the Spanish passing machine.

    The problem is that, at 34, he can no longer physically cut it at the top.

    Substituted in several games by Tata Martino at Barcelona last season, Xavi can still pass with the best of them but can't fight and run so much.

    While his game has never been based around fighting and running per se, they are still useful tools for a central midfielder in the modern game.

    It's time for Xavi to hand over his mantle. It's just a shame that his last game for Spain was that 5-1 humiliation by the Netherlands.

    He deserved better.

Much the Same for David Villa

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    Villa scored on a sad farewell.
    Villa scored on a sad farewell.Michael Sohn/Associated Press

    Arguably David Villa is Spain's best-ever striker at international level.

    He is certainly the most successful, having played a key role in firing them to two European Championships and one World Cup.

    It was fitting that he scored a marvellous goal in what looks like his final appearance for La Roja, a backheel flick in the 3-0 win over Australia.

    What was far less fitting were the tears that followed, thanks to Vicente del Bosque substituting him early in the game.

    The manager claimed he did not know it was Villa's last-ever match for Spain.

    He said at a press conference, per the BBC: "He seemed annoyed. He said it was his last game but I didn't know. I'm sure he was upset. I was thinking about it was time to kill off the game and we did that."

    While Villa has something to offer still, he probably won't in two years' time. 

    Especially as he's heading the MLS to play, via Australia.

    To bring through a young striker, such as Rodrigo or Jese, means there won't be space for Villa in the squad.

A Shame It Had to End Like This for Iker Casillas

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    Time to look to the future, Iker.
    Time to look to the future, Iker.Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    The Real Madrid goalkeeper had the tournament from hell.

    He shipped five against the Netherlands, making mistakes for several of the goals.

    Then David De Gea got injured.

    If the Manchester United stopper had been fit, Vicente del Bosque may have been tempted to pick him in Casillas' stead.

    So Iker got another game and made a key mistake against Chile, failing to keep hold of a ball and La Roja paid the price. 

    He was dropped for the final game for Pepe Reina and may have played his last match for Spain.

    It's time for De Gea to take the reins and become the undisputed No. 1 for Euro 2016.

Adios to Xabi Alonso

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    Xabi Alonso should be axed.
    Xabi Alonso should be axed.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    This is easily the most controversial selection.

    Xabi Alonso is still a good player. He is essential for Real Madrid.

    But Spain and Real Madrid play in different ways.

    Alonso is brilliant in a fast-paced, spring-the-trap, counter-attacking style.

    He plays superb, penetrative through balls for the likes of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo to drive on to.

    But for Spain, sometimes Alonso can be a square peg in a round hole.

    That is a churlish complaint seeing as he's been an important part of a successful side.

    But Spain have the chance to refresh their engine room, and Koke, Ander Herrera, Ander Iturraspe, Asier Illarramendi and others all want an opportunity.

    Maybe it's time to give it to them, considering Alonso will be 34 by France 2016.