Madrid: Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has warned his players that the defence of the World Cup that they won in South Africa in 2010 begins this Tuesday when they play Georgia in Tbilisi.
The road to Brazil 2014 begins in Georgia after Spain`s comfortable and convincing 5-0 friendly victory over Saudi Arabia Friday when a side made up of fringe players showed the depth of talent available for Del Bosque, reports Xinhua.
Del Bosque will bring stars such as Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta back into the starting 11 Tuesday night as he knows the importance of the opening qualifying match for the reigning world and European champion.
"The Brazil World Cup doesn`t start in 2014, it starts now against Georgia in Tbilisi," said Del Bosque Monday.
"In order to defend the World Cup that Spain won in South Africa, first we need to get the ticket to Brazil. The players know we have a long and hard qualification stage ahead of us and we can`t allow ourselves to lose concentration, because any slip-up will be a problem for us," continued the Spain coach.
Spain have the slight advantage of being in a five-team qualifying group and including Georgia they have to battle it out with France, Finland and Belarus for one direct qualification place for Brazil, which will go to the eventual group winner, and a spot in the play-offs for team that finishes second in the group.
France, who Spain beat 2-0 in Euro 2012 this summer, look to be the main rival and the destiny of the group could well be decided in the head to head games between the two sides, however dropped points away to sides such as Georgia could also be a key factor in who finishes first and second.
One big question will be whether or not Del Bosque puts his faith in Barcelona striker, David Villa. Villa replaced Fernando Torres as a substitute Friday and wasted little time in scoring the 52nd goal of his international career with a well-taken penalty.
Torres` first touch looked poor Friday, but Villa`s lack of match fitness will probably mean the Chelsea forward will make his 101st appearance for Spain Tuesday with the Barca striker waiting on the bench.