Spain hit by striker selection poser
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.
While 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 will play up front.
Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer David Villa has been ruled out of both games with an arthritic ankle injury, while 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, while 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.