Spain-Finland Preview: Sergio Ramos set for 100th Roja cap
The world and European champions will be aiming to maintain top spot in their qualifying group when they host Mixu Paatelainen's side in Gijon on Friday
By Karthick Arvinth
Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Alba
Alonso, Busquets, Iniesta
Silva, Fabregas, Pedro
Raitala, Toivio, Moisander, Arkivuo
R Eremenko, Hetemaj, Hamalainen
Midfielder Xavi is struggling with a hamstring problem and is unlikely to feature in Spain's Group I World Cup qualifier against Finland at El Molinon.
Carles Puyol (knee) and Iker Casillas (hand) are out injured, while Fernando Torres and Javi Martinez have been omitted from the squad by coach Vicente del Bosque.
Cesc Fabregas is expected to start in a "false nine" role alongside Pedro and David Silva in attack.
Finland boss Mixu Paatelainen is without Alexei Eremenko, who is suspended after getting sent off in the 1-1 draw against Georgia.
Chievo's Perparim Hetemaj is likely to replace the Rubin Kazan playmaker in the starting line-up.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Spain are on an 18-match unbeaten run (W14, D4) stretching back to November 2011.
La Roja have won three of their last four encounters with Finland.
- If he plays, Sergio Ramos (pictured, right) will be the eighth player to reach 100 appearances for Spain.
- Finland have only won three of their last nine internationals (W3, D3, L3).
- Suomi are ranked 87th in the world, having never qualified for a major tournament.
Finland's last win over Spain was a 2-0 success in a World Cup qualifier in June 1969.
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Top 3 Predictions
Spain 4-0 Finland
- 17.77 %
Spain 3-0 Finland
- 17.22 %
Spain 3-1 Finland
- 8.33 %
|World Cup Qualifying - UEFA (WCQ)||Sep 6, 2013||Finland 0 - Spain 2|
|World Cup Qualifying - UEFA (WCQ)||Mar 22, 2013||Spain 1 - Finland 1|
|International Friendlies (FR)||Oct 17, 2007||Finland 0 - Spain 0|
|Nov 19, 2013||South Africa 1 - Spain 0||FR|
|Nov 16, 2013||Equatorial Guinea 1 - Spain 2||FR|
|Oct 15, 2013||Spain 2 - Georgia 0||WCQ|
|Oct 11, 2013||Spain 2 - Belarus 1||WCQ|
|Sep 10, 2013||Spain 2 - Chile 2||FR|
|6||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|22||Jesús Navas González||Midfielder|
|Andrés Iniesta Luján|
The Barcelona playmaker has been in sublime form for his club in recent weeks and was a key figure in the historic 4-0 win over AC Milan in the Champions League. With Finland likely to defend deep in their own half, Iniesta's guile will be vital in unlocking the visitors' backline.
The Ajax defender is set to face one of the sterner tests of his career against the attacking riches of Spain. Moisander will have to lead from the front in a relatively inexperienced Finnish defence to keep out the world and double European champions.
It is hard to see this being anything other than a home win for Spain, against a Finland side lacking in experience at the highest level. The hosts will be out to record a convincing win ahead of Tuesday's table-topping showdown with France in Paris.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed