Puyol delays retirement decision
Semi-final hero reconsidering international future...
Spain defender Carles Puyol has declared he is weighing up prolonging his international career beyond World Cup 2010, despite having initially considered retirement before the tournament.
The Barcelona centre-back scored Spain's winning goal against Germany in the semi-finals to book his nation a place at their first ever World Cup final.
Prior to the tournament in South Africa, Puyol was strongly tipped to be hanging up his boots on the international front, after more than 80 caps for the European Champions.
However, he's now indicated he's considering staying on for a few more years after meeting with the Spanish Football Federation's sporting director, Fernando Hierro, and national team coach Vicente del Bosque.
"Honestly, this is not a decision that I have made. The truth is that, a year ago, I had things more clear than now, I had almost decided to retire from international football," Puyol told EFE.
"Those are normal things in football, but you talk to your team-mates, the coach, Hierro [Fernando Hierro], who are very important people to me and that make you think.
"The decision has not been made. I think about playing the World Cup final, giving my best and trying to help the team reach our big dream."
Spain face Holland in the World Cup final at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday evening.
No specific anti-Sneijder plan, says Del Bosque
Spain have not prepared a specific plan to counter in-form Netherlands midfielder Wesley Sneijder in Sunday's World Cup final, coach Vicente del Bosque said on Saturday.
Sneijder is joint-top scorer with Spain striker David Villa and Germany's Thomas Mueller in South Africa with five goals and his incisive distribution, ball-winning skills and long-range shooting have been a major reason for his team's successful run.
"We have faced other good players who play in that position," Del Bosque told a news conference at Soccer City.
"We have a very good midfield and they are very used to dealing with that kind of player," he added. "So no we don't have a specific plan to deal with Sneijder."
European champions Spain have had to battle some defensive-minded teams at the finals, enjoying long periods of possession but struggling at times to create chances.
Del Bosque said he did not expect the Dutch to switch to a more defensive style on Sunday, when both teams will be bidding for a first World Cup triumph.
"I don't believe Holland will change their approach simply because they are playing Spain," he said.
"They have a very well-defined style, as do we. I certainly don't think they will change the script.
"We have a lot of options and various solutions for any problem that might arise."
The 59-year-old coach gave nothing away about his starting 11 for the final, declining to say whether he planned to select misfiring striker Fernando Torres or stick with forward Pedro, whom he fielded against Germany in the semi-final.
Torres returned from knee surgery shortly before the finals and has yet to find the net in six appearances.
"I can tell you that we have 23 excellent players (in the squad) and any of them could be on the pitch tomorrow," he said. "There is no problem as far as I am concerned."
Torres asks for place
Fernando Torres has reportedly begged Spain manager Vicente del Bosque for a starting place in the World Cup final
The out-of-form striker is not guaranteed to line up against the Netherlands on Sunday.
Although an obvious choice before the tournament began, Torres has not found the back of the net at SA2010.
His bad form could be down to the various injuries he suffered while on club duty for Liverpool in the 2009/10 season.
And he was left on the bench for Spain's semi-final against Germany.
Torres reportedly made his plea in a private meeting with Del Bosque on Friday.
Speaking to the press, the manager had said: "I don't know if Torres will be in the line-up.
"It was a difficult choice against Germany. Torres has been helping us all along. His work is important even if it is not noticed. He is good at occupying the centre-backs.
"I didn't talk to him before I announced the line-up against Germany, but he is a very important part of the team. He is one of the key members of the squad and a lovely guy."