Del Bosque: France qualifying clashes are akin to cup knockout matches

The Spain coach is well aware of the possible threat posed by Didier Deschamps' side and is not reading anything into its defeat to Japan last Friday.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque believes Tuesday's clash with France will be vital in deciding who progresses from Group I in UEFA World Cup qualifying, likening the qualifying meetings with the fellow European power to cup knockout matches.

"There will be 15 points left to play for after the match, but the two games against France may be vital," Del Bosque told reporters at a press conference. "It looks like one of us will qualify outright, and that makes the game a cup knockout which needs to be settled."

The two sides are joint leaders of the group after taking six points from their opening two matches. La Roja beat Belarus 4-0 last Friday to join France atop the table, while Les Bleus fell to Japan 1-0 in a friendly on Friday. The former Real Madrid coach is not reading too much into the latter of those two results, though, and pointed out France's evolution on the back of Euro 2012.

"They've made some substantial changes, particularly to the backbone," Del Bosque said. "The flanks and people up front are the same, but the strong men in central defense and midfield have changed.

Del Bosque also revealed that defender Sergio Ramos was not certain to be available for the encounter after picking up a knock, but stressed that "he would play if he's fit."

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