No such reason for his omission has been given this time, with managers Del Bosque and Di Matteo both indicating he was not selected purely for footballing reasons.
Del Bosque stated that Spain simply have too many good players in that position, whilst Di Matteo said he was surprised, but certainly pleased that Mata would not be traveling to Spain’s matches against Belarus and France.
There is no doubt that Spain have an abundance of quality midfielders, however not taking Mata, who is in supreme form recently, picking up a further two assists against Norwich in his last match. Looking at the midfielders who have made the squad, there are some who could easily be behind Mata in the pecking order.
Of those currently plying their trade in England, Santi Cazorla and David Silva, there is an argument for saying he is in the best form of the three, and certainly had more of an impact than Cazorla when the two recently faced each other at the Emirates.
Both Cazorla and Silva are quality players, and both have more experience than Mata with the national side. However even taking those aside there are other players who Mata could have replaced.
Cesc Fabregas has shown signs recently that he is getting back to his best, but overall has had a poor start to the season. With Xabi Alonso and Busquets in the squad, was there a need to also take Benat Exteberria, especially as Xavi can also player a little deeper if required?
Also, as Spain will likely play with only one striker (if they play with one at all) did they need to select four players in that position, even if Pedro normally plays as more of a wide man?
All of the players that have been taken are of undoubted quality, but even so it would seem that it is Del Bosque’s loyalty to players who have not shown the high standards that Mata has lately that has cost the Chelsea midfielder a place.
There is no international position more competitive than Spain’s midfield, but Juan Mata can rightly be frustrated to have not made this squad.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald