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WC Qualification Europe

  • 26 March 2013
  • • 20:00
  • • Stade de France, Paris
  • Referee: V. Kassai
  • • Attendance: 78329
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France - Spain Preview: European powerhouses set for Paris showdown

France - Spain Preview: European powerhouses set for Paris showdown

John Berry

Vicente del Bosque's side surrendered top spot in Group I to les Bleus with a 1-1 draw against Finland on Friday and are under pressure to get a result in the French capital

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

FRANCE

Lloris
Jallet, Varane, Sakho, Evra
Pogba, Matuidi, Cabaye
Valbuena, Giroud, Ribery

SPAIN

Valdes
Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Monreal
Xavi, Busquets, Alonso
Pedro, Fabregas, Iniesta


France have no fresh injury worries ahead of Tuesday's vital World Cup qualifier against Spain at Stade de France.

Coach Didier Deschamps is set to revert to a 4-3-3 formation, with Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud expected to spearhead the attack ahead of the out-of-form Karim Benzema.

Patrice Evra and Yohan Cabaye are likely to return to the starting line-up after being unused substitutes in the 3-1 win over Georgia, while youngsters Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba may keep their place in the side after solid debuts.

Defender Jordi Alba is unavailable for Spain after picking up a thigh injury in the 1-1 draw against Finland.

David Silva also misses out through suspension, but fellow playmaker Xavi, who missed the game in Gijon with a hamstring problem, was able to train with the squad on Saturday and is expected to start.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • France are on a 13-match unbeaten run in World Cup and European Championship qualifiers (W9, D4).
  • Les Bleus have won just one of their last six encounters against Spain, losing four.

  • Mathieu Valbuena (pictured, right) has scored three goals in his last three appearances for France.

  • Spain are on a 19-match unbeaten run (W14, D5) stretching back to November 2011.

  • The Iberian outfit have won their last four away matches, including friendlies.

  • Vicente del Bosque overtook Ladislao Kubala's record for overseeing the most number of games as Spain boss in Friday's qualifier against Finland. The 62-year-old has taken charge of 69 internationals, winning 57.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
-Víctor Valdés
-Arbeloa
-Monreal
3PiquéDefender
15Sergio RamosDefender
16BusquetsMidfielder
6Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
14Xabi AlonsoMidfielder
8XaviMidfielder
7David VillaStriker
11PedroStriker
1David de GeaGoalkeeper
23Pepe ReinaGoalkeeper
2Raúl Albiol Defender
2César AzpilicuetaDefender
20Santi CazorlaMidfielder
10Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
-Javi García
-Jesús Navas González
15IscoMidfielder
13Juan MataStriker
-Negredo
Players to Watch
Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
9 2 1 0
The Arsenal forward scored a superb header against Georgia and looks set to get the nod in attack on Tuesday as Karim Benzema's international goal drought continues. Giroud struck a dramatic last-gasp equaliser against Spain in Madrid to secure a 1-1 draw in October and his aerial ability could make the difference again.
Xavi
Xavi
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 8
Games Goals YC RC
7 1 1 0
The 33-year-old playmaker's creativity was sorely missed as Spain stuttered to a 1-1 draw against Finland, despite enjoying over 80 per cent of possession. With France likely to adopt a more assertive and attacking game in front of their demanding fans, it should open up chances for Xavi to slide incisive passes behind the home side's defence.
Prediction
Spain's shock draw against Finland means they will have to go out and win at the Stade de France or risk losing out on automatic qualification for next year's tournament in Brazil. France took control of the group with a straightforward win over Georgia and will hope the momentum from that result will carry them over the line on Tuesday.
Editor's Prediction
France 1
Spain 1

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