European Champions Spain will further reap the rewards of their success last summer as they will take part in the Confederations Cup in the next few weeks. However, before Vicente del Bosque’s side can look to the tournament taking place in South Africa, first they will look to tweak and changes in the line up in the friendly against Azerbaijan on Tuesday 9th June.
Spain will go into the match full of confidence after an unbeaten run that stretches back 2 years, and so a trip to Baku to play Azerbaijan will hold no fears for the Spanish. On the other hand, Azerbaijan have not been in the best of form recently, as they were beaten 2-0 on Tuesday against Turkey, as they continued an unbeaten run stretching back to October 2008 when they were victorious away to Bahrain.
I would go on to try and guess the Spanish line-up, but because this is only a friendly, and because of injuries to key players such as Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Marcos Senna (who has been ruled out of the friendly and the tournament). However, the squad chosen by del Bosque still has quality running right through it, with the likes of Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Cesc Fabregas, Xavi and Fernando Torres all likely to play some part against Azerbaijan. There are 6 players who were not present when Spain won the European Trophy, and therefore the confidence of an astounding 21 game unbeaten run will
Looking at their opponents, Azerbaijain are far from a team in form. They have lost their last 2 games, losing 2-0 to Turkey in a friendly and 2-0 to Russia in a World Cup Qualifier. That has left Azerbaijan in 5th place in their World Cup Qualifying group, and requiring a major, major, major miracle to stand any chance of qualification for the World Cup.
On Tuesday, Turkey beat 10-man Azerbaijan, but it took the Turks 69 minutes before they broke through an Azerbaijan side full of vigour and determination to fight to the end. The first goal came 17 minutes after Azerbaijan were reduced to 10 men when Sadygov was rightly sent off for impeding Semih Senturk in the penalty area. However, to the credit of the Azerbaijan keeper, Fahrad Veliyev managed to save the following penalty.
Honestly speaking, this game should be a ‘walk in the park’ for the Spanish who will look to warm up for the Confederations Cup with style. The Azerbaijan team will look to try and stop Spain playing their football, but let’s be honest. Man United couldn’t do it. All of Europe couldn’t do it. Azerbaijan don’t stand much chance…but then again, this is football.
Looking at the Confederations cup, Spain can look forward to an entertaining tournament, and a tournament in which they will be one of the big players. Brazil and Italy will provide Spain with stiff competition but the Spanish will be the favourites heading into the competition.
Key players for the Spanish in the tournament are the obvious candidates. Casillas in goal will be important, especially against teams such as Brazil who have the ability to create numerous goal scoring opportunities during a match.
At the other end of the pitch, Fernando Torres will be crucial for Spain, and it will be of the utmost importance that he remains fit throughout the competition, as apart from Villa, Spain lack quality goal scorers.
While manager del Bosque will see this upcoming friendly as important in fine tuning his squad, he will be anxious to find that no players have suffered any further injuries after the friendly as Spain look to add to their European Championship crown in South Africa.
Can they do it? Why not? Italy are a spent force, and Spain seem to be playing Brazilian football better than Brazil!