Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Villa Spain’s scoring ace


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POTCHEFSTROOM – After missing out on Spain’s European Championship victory two years ago, striker David Villa is getting his chance to face Germany at the World Cup.Villa is the leading scorer in South Africa with five goals and now has a chance to make up for missing out on the 1-0 victory in Vienna with a World Cup semi-final at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium tomorrow.The 28-year-old forward is one goal away from matching Raul Gonzalez’s Spain record 44 and is looking to cement his place as his country’s greatest striker.“We beat Germany two years ago and I don’t think they are happy to meet us again,” Villa said. “But we have to forget about that game. Without a World Cup [win], it’s like we’ve achieved nothing.”Villa has been Spain’s most reliable source of goals since his debut in 2005.Villa topped Euro 2008 with four goals but injured his leg during the semi-final victory over Russia to miss out on the final, where Fernando Torres scored the most important goal in recent Spanish football history.While Germany’s new generation of players have rolled over opponents like England and Argentina to reach the last four, Spain have come through with tight victories over Portugal and Paraguay, with Villa scoring all but one of their goals in the competition so far.“I’m happy with my five goals because they’ve been decisive,” said Villa, Spain’s all-time leading World Cup scorer with eight goals. “It’s also different because when you win by a lot of goals it doesn’t hold the same feeling as winning this way.”Villa’s goal-scoring record is what prompted Barcelona to pay a reported 40 million euros ($50 million) to Valencia for the Asturias native, who scored 32 times in 50 games last season.His record speaks for itself: 43 goals in 63 games for Spain, and 160 goals in 258 club games over the past five seasons, including 46 in 59 during the 2008-09 season.“He’s been very, very important for us, a key for Spain scoring a lot of goals,” Torres said. “He gives us the opportunity to go forward and think about winning the World Cup.”The threat of Torres has helped Villa, who has the ability to find space between opponents defences and to push the limits of offsides to get free to score many of his goals, with either the left or right foot.But while Villa soars, Torres has struggled since returning from knee surgery and may not start against Germany.“He’s mature, he knows exactly what football is about and he knows he has to stay calm,” backup goalkeeper Pepe Reina said yesterday. “He’s got the confidence of the coach, his teammates. He can repeat his Euro feats and be fundamental for us.” (AP)

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