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Villa Leading The Charge For Spain

David Villa’s reputation has rocketed to one of the world’s top strikers over the past few months. A sudden surge of form and goals at the tail end of last season attracted interest from a whole host of big clubs, none bigger than Barcelona, who in May eventually prised him away from his beloved Valencia, sparking the forward into life on the world stage.

Coming into the World cup, Villa had netted an impressive 21 league goals in his curtain call season at Valencia and has been heavily backed to pick up the golden boot in South Africa this summer. After a sluggish 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in their first group game, the Spanish team have been put through their paces by manager Del Bosque and it seems to have paid off. Despite being without strike partner Fernando Torres for the majority of games, Villa has guided Spain to the quarter finals, finding the net four times (including a terrific long range strike against Chile) to level him at the top of the scoring chart alongside Slovakia’s Robert Vittek and Argentina hitman Gonzalo Higuain.

June 25, 2010 - Pretoria, South Africa - epa02222793 Spain's David Villa celebrates after scoring against Chile during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group H preliminary round match between Chile and Spain at the Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, 25 June 2010.

At the age of 28, Villa already has a wealth of international experience; making his debut in 2005 against San Marino before going on to take part in the last three major tournaments (including finishing top scorer at Euro 2008). Furthermore, his goal scoring record for Spain is nothing short of phenomenal, totalling 42 goals in 62 games.Predominately a striker, Villa began his career as an attacking midfielder at Sporting Gijon, but was soon placed back in the position he loved. However he does have the tendency to drift out wide on the left, as demonstrated in the game against Portugal. He is often criticised for lacking strength and pace due to his short stature, but shrugs off his doubters by continuing to find the net season after season.

If Spain are to go all the way in South Africa, then there is no doubt that David Villa must continue to play his part. He has established himself as an integral piece in the Spanish jigsaw, alongside giants of world football, including: Fabregas, Iniesta, Puyol and Casillas. It is evident that he thrives on the service provided by such players and has adapted well to playing alongside new additions to the national side such as new Barca team mate Sergio Busquets and the highly rated David Silva. Spain have arguably been handed the easiest tie possible in the form of Paraguay, offering them a great chance to reach the last four and to score goals in the process; that role though is largely down to David Villa, as Spain often come unstuck when he fails to do so.

June 21, 2010 - Johannesburg, South Africa - epa02215251 Spain's Sergio Busquets (L) and David Villa celebrate Villa's second goal during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group H preliminary round match between Spain and Honduras at the Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 21 June 2010.

One factor that may play on the minds of the Spaniards is Villa’s poor disciplinary record. Following their match against Honduras, the Barcelona forward admitted that he would need to control his temper better in future, after appearing to slap Emilio Izaguirre in the face. “I was merely standing there and the reaction was to stick my arm out. I’ll try in future to keep my cool.” One thing is for sure, Spain cannot afford to lose Villa for the games that really matter, especially for an incident as trivial as this.

Spain's David Villa scoring his sides opening goal..FIFA World Cup 2010 Group H..Spain v Honduras..21st June, 2010.

Overcoming a potentially career ending injury as a child (suffering a fracture to his femur) Villa has kicked on, working his way to the highest level and putting himself in the frame as one of the world’s best. Spain will need to ensure that they bring him into play as much as possible and provide him with the service needed for him to blossom if they are to live up to expectation and lift the infamous world cup trophy on July 11th.

Factfile:

Full Name: David Villa Sánchez

Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)

Current Club: Barcelona (number 7)

Career Goals: Club – 202, International – 42

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