Spain coach Luis Aragones has defended his captain Raul as he looks set to alter his formation to suit the Real Madrid striker in the World Cup warm-up match against Egypt in Elche on Saturday.
“Raul’s statistics speak for themselves. People have been unfair on him and it isn’t right that I have to come out and defend him,” Aragones told Radio Marca.
The Real Madrid striker, Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer, has come under fire folooiwng a poor run of form since returning in February from a three-month absence with a knee injury.
“Maybe it hasn’t been his best year. He is possibly missing a little sharpness after his injury but I am sure he will silence his critics,” Aragones added.
Raul started on the bench for last weekend’s friendly against Russia, which ended goalless, with Aragones preferring last season’s leading scorer in La Liga, David Villa, alongside Atletico Madrid’s Fernando Torres and Liverpool’s Luis Garcia.
But the indications are that Aragones will make space for the 28-year-old by altering his 4-3-3 formation to a 4-4-2 with Raul playing behind Villa and Torres.
Aragones sees Raul’s experience and ability to create chances as being vital to Spain’s chances.
“It isn’t a new position for him playing in a withdrawn role behind one or two strikers,” Aragones told a news conference later on Friday.
“He likes to be on the ball and playing there allows him to do that. He has an exceptional final pass, maybe the best in Spain.”
Meanwhile, Raul tried to play down the speculation surrounding his inclusion.
“I am comfortable in this position, where I can play with a lot of freedom, and we have two very fast players up front who can score goals,” Raul told a news conference.
“I haven’t scored for a while but I am confident this will change very soon. If I play it’s because the coach thinks I will add something to the team.
“But people should be talking about the whole team not just how or where Raul might or might not play.”