Belarus - Spain Preview: La Roja seek 24th straight qualifying win in Minsk
Vicente del Bosque's side will look to secure a convincing victory against the eastern European minnows ahead of Tuesday's encounter with fellow Group I heavyweights France
By Karthick Arvinth
Marty'vich, Palyakow, Filipenko, Verkho'sov
Bardachow, Bressan, A Hleb
Arbeloa, Busquets, Ramos, Alba
Xavi, Alonso, Fabregas
Silva, Torres, Iniesta
Belarus midfielders Anton Putsila and Timofei Kalachev will miss Friday's World Cup qualifier against Spain at the Dynama Stadium in Minsk.
The injured duo join forward Leonid Kovel on the sidelines, leaving BATE Borisov's Vitali Rodionov as the only recognised striker in the squad.
Coach Georgy Kondratiev could name up to six players from the BATE side that beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week in his starting line-up, with Aliaksandr Hleb expected to make his first international appearance since February 2011.
Sergio Busquets looks set to start as a makeshift centre-back for Spain, who are without injured Barcelona pair Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique.
Raul Albiol and Javi Martinez could also provide defensive cover, but coach Vicente del Bosque's training formation on Wednesday had Busquets operating in central defence alongside Sergio Ramos.
Chelsea striker Fernando Torres should start ahead of Roberto Soldado in attack, while playmaker Santi Cazorla may feature following recent impressive performances for Arsenal.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Belarus, ranked 87th in the world, lie bottom of Group I, having lost their first two qualifiers away to Georgia and France respectively.
- The Eastern European outfit are on a four-match winless run at home (D2, L2).
- Aliaksandr Hleb (pictured right) spent one season in the Spanish Primera Division, making 19 league appearances for Barcelona in 2008-09.
- Spain have won their last 23 World Cup and European Championship qualifiers - a run that stretches back to September 2007.
- La Roja are on a 46-match unbeaten run in World Cup qualification matches. Their last defeat in a World Cup qualifier came away to Denmark in March 1993.
- Sergio Ramos needs five more caps to become only the seventh Spaniard to make 100 international appearances.
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Top 3 Predictions
Belarus 0-4 Spain
- 18.17 %
Belarus 0-3 Spain
- 14.18 %
Belarus 0-8 Spain
- 12.39 %
|World Cup Qualification 2014 (Europe) (WCQE)||11 Oct 2013||Spain 2 - Belarus 1|
|World Cup Qualification 2014 (Europe) (WCQE)||12 Oct 2012||Belarus 0 - Spain 4|
|19 Nov 2013||Turkey 2 - Belarus 1||FR|
|15 Nov 2013||Belarus 0 - Albania 0||FR|
|15 Oct 2013||Belarus 1 - Japan 0||FR|
|11 Oct 2013||Spain 2 - Belarus 1||WCQE|
|10 Sep 2013||Belarus 2 - France 4||WCQE|
|6||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|22||Jesús Navas González||Midfielder|
Bressan is a Brazil-born attacking midfielder who competed with his adopted country in the London Olympics. With Belarus likely to field just one striker, their midfield will have to compensate for the lack of numbers up front, meaning the 23-year-old must get the better of Spanish defenders whenever he gets an opportunity to break forward.
Fernando Torres appears to be turning the corner at Chelsea after a couple of indifferent years and has made a bright start to the season in England, scoring six goals in 12 appearances this season. With Spain still struggling to settle on a first choice target man up front, a fit and firing Torres will come as a great asset to Del Bosque.
Belarus's best hope to get a result is to defend deep and hope a heavy pitch hinders Spain's passing game. The visitors' gifted squad has all bases covered, though, and it is hard to see them faltering here, or, indeed, throughout the rest of their qualifying campaign.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed