FIFA World Cup qualifiers: Spain vs Belarus - Preview
Madrid: World champions Spain can move to the brink of qualification for next year`s World Cup in Brazil when they host Belarus in Mallorca on Friday.
Vicente del Bosque`s men need just four points from their two remaining qualifiers to seal an automatic place at the finals with the meeting against the side ranked 80th in the world followed by the visit of Georgia to Albacete on Tuesday.
Whilst it would be a major surprise should Spain not emerge victorious from both games, there is still plenty for Del Bosque to ponder ahead of the expected defence of their title in South America.
The biggest question for the former Real Madrid boss remains who he will play up front.
Spain`s all-time leading goalscorer David Villa has been ruled out of both games with an arthritic ankle injury, whilst Villa`s Atletico Madrid teammate Diego Costa was not included in Del Bosque`s squad as the paperwork to allow him to switch allegiance from Brazil to Spain hadn`t been completed in time.
Their absence led to a first ever call up for Swansea City forward Michu and he is hoping to get the chance to further his chances of being on the plane to Brazil in June.
"To be an international is a dream for anyone and with Spain it is even more so. To wear the shirt of the Spanish national team is to wear the shirt of the best team in the world," said the 27-year-old.
"I will play wherever the manager decides, to be here with the best players in the world is already a reward and I will do whatever they ask me.
"You are always a bit nervous to start with, but when you go onto the pitch and you see footballers of such a high level everything is easier. I have come here to help, learn and seal our qualification."
However, rather than opt for Michu or Manchester City`s Alvaro Negredo, Del Bosque is expected to stick with Cesc Fabregas in the false nine role that he has occupied for Spain over the last 18 months and more recently for Barcelona in Lionel Messi`s absence.
The other big decision for Del Bosque surrounds whether to keep faith with captain Iker Casillas in goal ahead of the in-form Victor Valdes.
Casillas has played just 105 minutes of competitive football for Real Madrid since January, whilst Valdes is in the form of his life having kept seven clean sheets in Barcelona`s 12 games so far this campaign.
Despite his lack of action at club level though, Casillas started in the 2-0 win over Finland last month and is expected to once again be between the posts on Friday night.
In defence, Arsenal`s Nacho Monreal will deputise for the injured Jordi Alba at left-back and Atletico Madrid`s Koke could again start in an unfamiliar role at right-back having been used there against Finland at the expense of Alvaro Arbeloa.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Will implement 'One Rank, One Pension' without fail: PM Modi
- Delhi: Shakuntala Gamlin writes to LG against AAP minister
- Jharkhand's Health Minister slaps political rival in public
- Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar stands in a queue at Pune wedding!
- One Rank, One Pension: What is complicating its implementation? Part-2
- President Pranab Mukherjee gives nod to re-promulgation of Land Acquisition Ordinance
- 'Mann Ki Baat': PM Narendra Modi to address nation today, may talk to Army jawans
- PM Modi's 'Mann Ki Baat' 8th edition: As it happened
- IMD predicts thundershowers in Delhi, Punjab and UP between June 1-3
- Check CHSE orrisharesults.nic.in, chseodisha.nic.in for Class 12 (Plus Two) Result 2015