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  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 5:48am
SportSoccer
WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS

Spain face must-win World Cup qualifier against France

The reigning champions see the prospect of failing to qualify for next year's tournament in Brazil if they stumble again at Stade de France

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 March, 2013, 10:55pm
 

The prospect of the reigning world champions missing next year's World Cup finals in Brazil will loom large if stumbling Spain misfire again in France today.

Vicente Del Bosque's side have not lost a competitive match since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but two consecutive home draws have seen them fall behind France in this qualifying campaign.

After being held 1-1 by the French in Madrid in October, Spain allowed Finland to escape with a draw by the same score in Gijon last Friday and are now two points adrift of the French in group I.

"The result is disastrous," admitted David Villa after Spain failed to add to Sergio Ramos' opener against the group's bottom nation despite monopolising possession and camping in the opposition half, and Finland hit back to equalise late.

A loss at the Stade de France and Spain will be five points behind Didier Deschamps' side with just three matches remaining, all but ending their chances of qualifying automatically.

"This game will be a final for both teams," striker Alvaro Negredo said, before adding: "We have the quality to win in any stadium in the world."

Negredo was one of several attackers used by Del Bosque over the course of last Friday's game, but Spain just could not kill off a well-organised Finnish side.

However, France are likely to adopt a more attacking approach in front of their own demanding support in Saint-Denis, and Negredo believes that will play into Spain's hands.

"This game will be different to the rest of the qualifying campaign," he said. "It will be much more open, against a team who will try to create chances and will leave us spaces. We will try to benefit from the fact that we will be playing against quality opposition who will look to play football."

Deschamps' team played with great maturity in holding the European and world champions in Madrid and took a 3-1 win over Georgia last Friday.

Goals from Olivier Giroud and Franck Ribery either side of a strike by the superb Mathieu Valbuena allowed the French to see off the former Soviet republic and take full advantage of Spain's unexpected faux pas.

"It was like the perfect evening for us," Deschamps said of Friday night.

Having 11 men behind the ball might appear the most likely way of taking anything from Spain, but Deschamps insists that France will try to take the game to their visitors.

"My intentions will not change because Spain's will certainly not change," he said. Deschamps lifted the World Cup as France captain in 1998.

"They will look to monopolise possession of the ball and win the match. I don't see myself telling my team to just defend. Spain oblige you to defend but a win would be a very good result for us, even if a draw would still be a good result.

"Our objective is to qualify for the World Cup and the best way to do that is by finishing first in the group."

However, Deschamps ominously added: "On Tuesday we will still be up against the best team in the world."

That means that the France coach is likely to ditch the 4-4-2 formation adopted against Georgia in favour of having an extra man in midfield as the hosts look to continue an impressive record in home qualifiers, which has seen them lose just two of their past 34.

Agence France-Presse

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