Madrid, Oct 14: It promises to be a happy homecoming for Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta as the reigning World Champions look to book their place in next summer’s World Cup Tuesday.
A point for the Spanish at home to Georgia (who have no chance of qualifying) will assure that Spain have a ticket to Brazil and the match in Albacete’s Carlos Belmonte Stadium is extra special for Iniesta given that it takes place in what is virtually his home town.
The man who scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final to give Spain their first ever World Cup is from the area and has always maintained his roots there despite joining Barcelona when he was just eight years old.
Iniesta will form part of a starting 11 which pulled off a laboured 2-1 against Belarus in Mallorca Friday night to take them to the verge of qualification and thanks to their superior goal difference over second placed France, Spain could probably lose Tuesday and still be on the plane to Brazil.
However, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has some issues to settle in his starting 11. For starters, who is going to lead the Spanish attack.
Del Bosque opted to give a debut to Swansea forward Michu, who played as a false number 9 against Belarus and the experiment was not a total success as Spain laboured in front of goal, with their opening strike coming just after the hour, thanks to midfielder Xavi Hernandez.
Alvaro Negredo, a more typical centre forward made an impact as a substitute as he came on and scored the decisive second goal of the game. Negredo has now scored nine times for Spain and is pushing for a start, although his typical bustling play doesn’t necessarily fit in with the touch style favoured by Del Bosque and his creative midfield.
Del Bosque also has an issue in goal where he decided to drop Iker Casillas in favour of Victor Valdes Friday. It was a surprise given the coach’s previous support for the Real Madrid man, but also a logical decision given Valdes’ early season form and the fact that Casillas is now substitute with his club. The question now is whether or not Del Bosque will stick with Valdes or bring Casillas back into the side.
Finally with central defenders Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique both carrying slight knocks, Del Bosque will have to consider playing Inigo Martinez in central defence, while Nacho Monreal continues at left back for the injured Jordi Alba, who will be out for six weeks with a torn muscle.