Cesar Azpilicueta continued at left-back in Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to FC Basel on Tuesday night, in a tough clash for the entire west London outfit’s back four.
The natural right-back has been something of a surprise addition to the team in the absence of Ashley Cole, with left-footed Ryan Bertrand overlooked and the Spaniard preferred.
Although the ex-Osasuna and Marseille defender endured a tough evening in Switzerland in the team’s most recent outing, Azpilicueta has taken to the left-back berth well overall.
His dynamism, energy and positional sense have all been good, and despite being right-footed he has looked relatively comfortable on the other flank.
Given the fact that Azpilicueta can now seemingly play on the left or right with confidence, will this help his chances of winning a place in the Spain squad for the World Cup?
In a World Cup year, the most important thing is that hopeful participants are playing regularly and prospering for their clubs. With Branislav Ivanovic certainly Jose Mourinho’s first-choice at right-back, Azpilicueta getting the opportunity to play on the other flank puts him in the public spotlight.
Vicente del Bosque will surely see the 24-year-old’s versatility as a potential benefit, as the Chelsea man could be included as a squad player to cover both positions.
At left-back, although he has been on the sidelines for most of this term, Jordi Alba is most likely going to be first-choice, with Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal backing him up.
On the other flank, right-back is the one position in the Spain squad that the world champions are not blessed with complete strength in depth.
Real Madrid man Alvaro Arbeloa is the most likely to feature here, with Del Bosque introducing new, less experienced players at right-back in his recent squads.
With only four caps to his name, Azpilicueta needs to have a big six months and rest of the season for Chelsea to force his way into the reckoning. However, his versatility to play on either flank will give him more game time at club level and could be perceived as an advantage for the world champions.
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