Spain - Saudi Arabia Preview: Newly-crowned European champions prepare for World Cup qualifying with friendly
La Roja face Georgia on Monday as they prepare their defence of the crown but first comes a non-competitive match against Frank Rijkaard's men
By Martin Macdonald
Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba
Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Busquets
Pedro, Torres, Iniesta
Al-Zori, Hawsawi, Al-Mousa, Al-Sharani
Al-Fraidi, Al-Jassim, Ali-Kariri, Al-Shalhoub
The Spain squad are together for their first competitive match since being crowned European champions in Poland and Ukraine this week. But first comes an international friendly against Saudi Arabia, and coach Vicente Del Bosque has made some high profile selections in his 23-man contingent.
Despite only recently returning from a long-term absence due to a broken leg, David Villa makes the squad. However, the fact that he has not seen much first-team action recently will see Chelsea striker Fernando Torres given the nod in attack.
Carles Puyol will not feature as he is still recovering from a fractured cheekbone he suffered on club duty. This will likely see a central defensive partnership of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique at the back.
Del Bosque has adopted a 4-3-3 formation in recent matches, so expect a trio of Xavi, Xabi Alonso, and Sergio Busquets in midfield. Fresh off his recent accolade as Uefa Best Player in Europe Award, Andres Iniesta will feature to the left of Torres in attack, with Barcelona team-mate Pedro also set to start following his impressive start to the season. Usual squad regulars Javi Martinez and Alvaro Negredo have been left out.
World Cup Qualifiers commence this week, but Saudi Arabia have already failed to qualify for the tournament in Brazil, winning just one of their qualifying matches in the Asian section.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- The last match between the nations was a friendly in 2010 in which Spain came out 3-2 winners over Saudi Arabia. David Villa, Fernando Llorente, and Xabi Alonso bagged the goals.
- Spain are the only team in history to win three major international tournaments consecutively.
- The only player to score for Spain against Saudi Arabia in a competitive match is Juanito, who netted in a 1-0 win in the 2002 World Cup.
- Only two Saudi Arabia players have found the net against Spain in all competitions, Osama Hawsawi and Sultan Al Namare.
- The coach of the Asian side is Frank Rijkaard, who enjoyed a prosperous spell in Spain with Barcelona from 2003-2008.
- Saudi Arabia only won one of their 2014 World Cup qualifying matches, a 3-0 win against Thailand.
|Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Sign up today with Coral and get a £50 FREE bet - no strings attached!|
|Sign up today with BetVictor and get a £25 FREE BET!|
Top 3 Predictions
Spain 3-0 Saudi Arabia
- 13.11 %
Spain 4-0 Saudi Arabia
- 11.11 %
Spain 5-0 Saudi Arabia
- 10.91 %
|International Friendlies (FR)||7 Sep 2012||Spain 5 - Saudi Arabia 0|
|International Friendlies (FR)||29 May 2010||Spain 3 - Saudi Arabia 2|
|World Cup 2006 (WC)||23 Jun 2006||Saudi Arabia 0 - Spain 1|
|26 Mar 2013||France 0 - Spain 1||WCQE|
|22 Mar 2013||Spain 1 - Finland 1||WCQE|
|6 Feb 2013||Spain 3 - Uruguay 1||FR|
|14 Nov 2012||Panama 1 - Spain 5||FR|
|16 Oct 2012||Spain 1 - France 1||WCQE|
|Returns:||Spain £10.63||Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Returns:||Draw £610.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Saudi Arabia £1010.00||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|2||Raúl Albiol Tortajada||Defender|
|6||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|-||Mansour Al Harbi||Defender|
|-||Sultan Al Bishi||Defender|
|-||Abdulaziz Al Dawsari|
|-||Taisir Al Jassim||Midfielder|
|-||Nasser Al Shamrani||Striker|
|-||Ahmed Al Mousa|
|-||Abdulmajeed Al Ruwaili|
|-||Hamad Al Hamad|
|-||Mohammed Al Bishi||Defender|
|-||Yasir Al Shahrani||Defender|
|Andrés Iniesta Luján|