Kick-off: Saturday, June 20, 2009, 20:30 (CET) Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Spain have already qualified for the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup with maximum points from their two games, but host nation South Africa are in need of a result to guarantee their progress.
A Result Against The Euro Champs
South Africa are in an interesting position in group A, with a draw and a win giving them four points, placing them second, behind Spain on six points. The hosts have to watch their backs as Iraq have the potential to win and reach the semi-finals instead of Bafana if they defeat New Zealand and Spain get the three points against South Africa. Both matches will be played simultaneously, and that is where an interesting scenario presents itself.
This means that a positive result is a must for the hosts, if they are qualify for the next round, with their destiny still lying in their own hands. Spain is a tough prospect for Bafana, but in football nothing is impossible, and South Africa will be counting on the power of their home crowd to carry them through the game.
South Africa need to make sure they take their chances in Bloemfontein, as they missed a great deal in the previous match despite a win against New Zealand. The numerous missed opportunities might prove gravely crucial following the match against Spain when, should Iraq beat New Zealand and Bafana lose to Spain, goal difference could come into play.
Spain Resting Some Stars As Point Is Enough For Top Spot
South Africa may be desperate to earn a berth in the semi-finals, but they may have some good news, as the already qualified Spanish are unlikely to field all of their star players in the match, and a few will certainly be rested ahead of a tough semi-final encounter next week.
Vicente del Bosque will reportedly make some changes in Spain's starting lineup, altering around six or seven players in the starting eleven. All that Spain need to do in the game against South Africa is earn a draw to be sure of the top spot in group A, so it is unlikely that the coach will risk his top players for the Bafana game. This may not be a big deal for the Spaniards however, as their squad is packed with supreme talent.
According to Spanish reports, the team trained so with different line-ups, suggesting that the coach will indeed change things up for the final group game. One of the front men will almost certainly be rested for the match, with Fernando Llorente or Daniel Guiza coming in to replace them.
While a shuffle in midfield and defence will also likely take place, and goalkeeper Iker Casillas may even make way for Liverpool shot stopper Pepe Reina. The talented Spaniards that come into the team for this match will have something to prove to the coach, and it will certainly be a great chance to stake a claim at a permanent place in the starting eleven.
17 June: South Africa 2-0 New Zealand
14 June: South Africa 0-0 Iraq
06 June: South Africa 1-0 Poland
17 June: Spain 1-0 Iraq
14 June: Spain 5-0 New Zealand
09 June: Azerbaijan 0-6 Spain
Teko Modise and Steven Pienaar have fully recovered from injuries to take part in the Spain game at maximum fitness, and they are both expected to play from the starting whistle. None of the South Africans are suspended, but a few are one yellow card away from missing the next match.
Possible team: Khune, Booth, Gaxa, Masilela, Davids, Mokoena, Sibaya, Pienaar, Modise, Mashego, Parker.
Spain are expected to rest numerous stars in this encounter. In will come Alvaro Arbeloa, Gerard Pique, Albert Riera and also Cesc Fabregas, who was injured for the last game against Iraq. It is thought that Xabi Alonso will still start in midfield and so too will Villarreal ace Santi Cazorla. No Spanish players are suspended.
Possible team: Reina, Ramos, Arbeloa, Pique, Capdevila, Riera, Fabregas, Alonso, Cazorla, Villa, Guiza.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bernard Parker has the makings of a star. The unassuming striker recently joined Red Star Belgrade after topping the goalscoring charts in the South African league half way through the season. The poacher has found the net on seven occasions for Bafana, including his brace in the Confederations Cup victory against the All Whites of New Zealand. There is a great deal of potential waiting to reveal itself in this young athlete.
Fernando Torres is one of the world’s best strikers at the moment, with three goals in the first game of this year’s Confederations Cup bringing his tally to 22 for the Furia Roja. His pace, strength, skill and accurate finishing make him a nightmare for any defender, and South Africa will be hoping that he is among the players to be rested.
Spain want to be top of the group, and one point will give them that title, but South Africa will be trying to get a good result too. Spain should prove too strong for Bafana on the night.
South Africa 0-2 Spain
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com