Alcacer leads the way

When analysing Spain’s squad the make up of the players’ clubs was often a foregone conclusion. The majority of the players mainly consisted of those from Real Madrid or Barcelona. It is no surprise seeing as they are the dominant teams in Spain. However, in recent years there has been an increase of players called up from outside the two main teams, with Coach Vicente Del Bosque rewarding those showing good form in the League.

Last season, Atletico Madrid’s historic League winning triumph was rewarded, as Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa, right-back Juanfran and midfielder Koke were called up to Spain’s World Cup squad. In September Athletic Bilbao’s Mikel San Jose and Ander Iturraspe were called up as a result of Champions League qualification but also last season's excellent form. Call-ups for the games against Slovakia and Luxembourg continued the trend, as strikers Rodrigo Moreno and Paco Alcacer were included.

Their inclusion is thoroughly deserved and much to do with Valencia’s stunning form. After seven League games Valencia sit in second place – merely two points behind leaders Barcelona. Of those seven games Los Che have won five, drawn two and remain undefeated.

Rodrigo’s arrival on loan from Benfica has brought added impetus to the squad. Despite scoring only one goal this season his contribution has been notable, chiming in with two assists. Del Bosque has seen enough to feel the 23-year-old warrants a place in the national squad for the first time.

However, it has been the performance of young striker Alcacer which has really turned heads. In seven League games the 21-year-old has scored four times and provided four assists. He finally come of age after struggling to fulfil his potential to maximum effect over the last few seasons.

Alcacer has been revitalized this season and is part of a dangerous attacking corps with Rodrigo but also Pablo Piatti, Sofiane Feghouli and Rodrigo De Paul. The depth in attack oozes goals and the statistics back it up. Valencia have scored 17 times, the third-most in the League, but impressively conceded only four goals – the second-lowest behind Barcelona. The arrival of Peter Lim has been hugely beneficial to the club, as it has brought pride into the club not been seen for over 10 years.  

While Rodrigo is a product of shrewd acquisitions in the transfer market Alcacer is the symbol of Los Che’s brilliant cantera. The youngster showed his eye for goal on Thursday against Slovakia in Zilina. Coming off the bench with La Roja a goal down he showed his credentials by equalizing, his second goal for Spain. But Spain conceded late in the game to lose 2-1, a fourth defeat in six games.

Despite suffering their first defeat in a qualifier since 2006 there was no blemish on Alcacer, just a further boost to his reputation. Continue his sterling form for Valencia and he will seal a spot in Spain’s Euro 2016 squad – should they qualify. His future is looking bright for club and country.