For Vicente del Bosque, Wednesday's meeting with Venezuela in Malaga is a mixture of adrenalin, nostalgia, adventure and challenge.
Spain know that their South American opponents enjoy a lower profile in Europe than Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, but also that Venezuela will provide a stern test at La Rosaleda. Aside from simply meeting the challenge of raising their game for another friendly match where the opponents dream of taking the scalp of world and European champions, Spain know the countdown to UEFA EURO 2012 starts here.
Hence the adrenalin but there is a sense of adventure too in that Del Bosque has been musing over whether Spain could attempt to defend their European crown with a playing style which uses no recognised central striker. Against Venezuela it is far more likely that La Roja will opt for the traditional, probably in the sizeable shape of the in-form Fernando Llorente.
But with David Villa in a race to be fit for the summer and Fernando Torres out of form at Chelsea FC there is room for those who can play what is becoming known as the 'false' centre-forward to advance their cause. As for the nostalgia it is poetic that, having been the Real Madrid CF coach who signed Roberto Soldado, then aged 14, Del Bosque is now in a position to invite the prolific Valencia CF striker to work with the national squad.
"Venezuela are the perfect opponents for us right now given what we will have to face in the summer," Del Bosque said. "They are surging up the FIFA rankings, they are equal top of the qualification table for Brazil 2014 and I like the bold, fresh way their coach has them playing. The summer might seem a long way off but in fact it's very close.
Time will fly, there are three intense and passionate months ahead of my players and we need to be prepared.”
Del Bosque, who may rest Xavi Hernández because of his repetitive Achilles and calf muscle pains, added: "Against Scotland [in qualifying] we tried a little experiment with a system which had no recognised centre-forward. Otherwise we have always played with a main striker – Torres, [Álvaro] Negredo or Llorente. However we have a richness of resources and we need to think about how to manage that well.
"It's nice to bring Soldado in and his case is one I've experienced many times. Obviously it's a terrific emotion when someone you believe in reaches the top level because, sometimes, your will for that guy to succeed can be frustrated by events. I remember very clearly the first day I saw him playing in Valencia, which led to me signing him. So I'm enormously pleased that he has come this far in his career."
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