Spain national team players attend a training session at Boris Paichadze stadium in Tbilisi, September 10, 2012. Favourites Spain start the defence of their world title away to Georgia on Tuesday when coach Vicente del Bosque will have another chance to test the form of record marksman David Villa, recently returned from eight months out with a broken leg. (Photo : REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili (GEORGIA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
Spain begins it World Cup 2014 qualifications on Wednesday against a Georgian squad that won its first match.
The World Cup champions are coming off a historic championship run at the 2012 Euro Cup which made them the first team ever to win three major tournaments in a row.
The squad that will be competing in the World Cup qualifiers is pretty similar to the team that lifted the Euro Cup trophy just four months ago.
Iker Casillas, Jose Reina, and Victor Valdes are the keepers. No surprises there.
Jordi Alba, Raul Albiol, Alvaro Arbeloa, Ignacio Monreal, Gerard Pique, Etxebarria Benat, Sergio Ramos, and Juanfran Torres are the defenders. The notable absence here is Carles Puyol who was a cornerstone of the Spanish defense. However the defender's age, 34, and recent injuries have likely kept him off the team. Benat and Monreal are the newcomers in this group.
At midfield, Spain will employ Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Santiago Cazorla, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta,
Xavi Hernandez, Pedro Rodriguez, David Silva, and Jesus Navas. This is pretty much the same squad that played at the Euro Cup.
Roberto Soldado, Fernando Torres, and David Villa will be the strikers. Soldado is the newcomer while Villa returns to the squad after missing the entire Euro Cup with an injury. Torres, who won the Champions League with Chelsea, and earned the Golden Boot at the Euro 2012, will look to show naysayers that he is still in top form.
Spain is expected to breeze through this match, though Georgia will look to keep pace with the champions. They played a strong match against Belarus and earned a 1-0 win to earn an essential three points in Group I of the UEFA World Cup Qualifiers. France, Finland, and Belarus are the other three teams in this group. Spain and France are widely accepted as the favorites of the group and the most likely to earn playoff berths. The winner of the group makes the tournament automatically, while the runnerup must enter into a playoff round to earn qualification.
The match will be played at the Boris Paichadze National Stadium in Tblisi. Norway's Svein Oddvar Moen is slated to be the referee in the match. The match starts at 1:30 PM ET.
Prediction: Spain takes this easily. 3-0 or 4-0 is your score.