Georgia - Spain Preview: La Roja begin the long road to Brazil with Tbilisi clash
After romping to victory in the Euros, the world and double European champions embark on the quest to defend their World Cup title with an arduous trip to the Caucasus
By Karthick Arvinth
Grigalava, Kashia, Amisulashvili, Khizanishvili
Kankava, Daushvili, Okriashvili, Targamadze
Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Alba
Xavi, Busquets, Alonso
Pedro, Torres, Iniesta
Georgia coach Temuri Ketsbaia has no injury concerns heading into Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Spain at the Boris Paichadze Stadium in Tbilisi.
The former Olympiakos boss could name the same team that beat Belarus 1-0 on Friday, with 20-year-old match-winner Tornike Okriashvili likely to reprise his role in midfield.
Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Xavi and Andres Iniesta are all set to return to Spain's starting line-up after being rested for the friendly win over Saudi Arabia.
Chelsea forward Fernando Torres is expected to start again despite David Villa making a scoring return to international football on Friday night.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Georgia have won four of their last five matches, with three of those victories coming at home.
- Ranked 86th in the world, the Caucasus nation have never qualified for a World Cup finals tournament before.
- Georgia follow up their match against Spain with World Cup qualifiers away to Finland, Belarus and France, respectively.
- Spain are on a 13-match unbeaten run (W10, D3). Their last defeat was a 1-0 reverse against England in November last year.
- La Roja are bidding to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil (1958, 1962).
- Fernando Torres (pictured right) won his 100th cap for Spain in the win over Saudi Arabia.
|Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Sign up with bet365 for a 100% deposit bonus up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Top 3 Predictions
Georgia 1-0 Spain
- 14.25 %
Georgia 0-3 Spain
- 14.01 %
Georgia 0-4 Spain
- 14.01 %
|World Cup Qualifying - UEFA (WCQ)||Oct 15, 2013||Spain 2 - Georgia 0|
|World Cup Qualifying - UEFA (WCQ)||Sep 11, 2012||Georgia 0 - Spain 1|
|Mar 5, 2014||Georgia 2 - Liechtenstein 0||FR|
|Oct 15, 2013||Spain 2 - Georgia 0||WCQ|
|Sep 10, 2013||Georgia 0 - Finland 1||WCQ|
|Sep 6, 2013||Georgia 0 - France 0||WCQ|
|Aug 14, 2013||Kazakhstan 1 - Georgia 0||FR|
|6||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|22||Jesús Navas González||Midfielder|
The highly-rated Spartak Moscow attacker burst onto the scene by becoming the youngest player ever to score in the Russian top division, netting against rivals Lokomotiv Moscow as a 17-year-old in 2009. Ananidze will look to pose problems to the Spanish defence, which is prone to occasional lapses in concentration.
The 25-year-old looks set to be rewarded with a starting berth after scoring twice in the 5-0 rout of Saudi Arabia. The Canary Islands-born forward will be keen to continue his productive start to the season and hold down a regular spot in the Spanish side heading into the 2014 World Cup.
While Georgia will be buoyed by their opening win over Belarus, they face a daunting task to seal qualification from a five-team group that includes Spain and France. The visitors should have little trouble in dispatching their less illustrious opponents, but sterner tests lie ahead.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed