KAMEN (Germany): David Villa, Fernando Torres and Luis Garcia formed a three-man attack in a training game on Sunday that may have revealed the contours of Spain's line-up ahead of its Group H opener against Ukraine.
Spain captain Raul Gonzalez, who was not among the presumptive starters, left the game at halftime after receiving blows to his right ankle and left thigh. The Real Madrid striker walked off the field without showing any signs of strain, and was not believed to be seriously injured.
The session in punishing heat at the Kamen sports ground was Spain's most ambitious yet, and the first indication of what players coach Luis Aragones has in mind for the match against Ukraine on Wednesday.
Aragones, known among the players as ``the mister,'' fielded Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso and Brazilian-born Marcos Senna in the midfield of a 4-3-3 formation.
Carles Puyol and Pablo Ibanez formed the central defence in front of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, with Sergio Ramos and newcomer Mariano Pernia as fullbacks.
``The `mister' has said that he has an 11 in mind, but he still hasn't decided,'' said defender Michel Salgado, who played on the substitute team.
``I imagine he will try different things, and think and he'll decide at the last moment.''
Aragones has previously fielded all 23 players in a variety of formations at pre-match training sessions, leaving everyone guessing what his starting 11 will look like in Wednesday's match in Leipzig.
100 per cent training
``The fact that there is still no definite starting lineup means all players are giving 100 per cent in training,'' said Luis Garcia, who is vying for a role as a forward or offensive midfielder.
``I think that is very good and ensures the team is competitive to the maximum.''
The coach's biggest decision is whether to bench Raul, who is making his third World Cup appearance. He is Spain's all-time leading scorer with 43 goals, but went seven months without finding the net until a June 3 friendly against Egypt.
Raul could make way for Villa, who scored 25 times for Valencia this season, second only to FC Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o in the Spanish league.
``We are all working hard to be starters, and if it doesn't happen, then we'll have to help the team from the sidelines,'' Villa said.
``If the coach decides that I have to start the game from the bench for the good of the team, then I think that won't surprise anybody.''
Whichever players Aragones choses, Spain is a strong favourite to win Group H, which also includes Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
Whether the team survives its traditional stumbling block the quarterfinals is another issue.
The most likely opponent at that stage is defending champion Brazil. AP