Euro 2012 Preview: Spain – Lithuania

La Furia Roja remain the team to beat in the world game, and they’ll be looking to emphasise that point on Friday...
Fifteen On The Trot

World Cup winners Spain have yet to be seriously stretched on a competitive basis since lifting the crown in South Africa in July, and they’ll hope their encounter against Lithuania doesn’t prove to be an especially pressing affair on Friday.

Placed in one of the qualifying groups with only five teams, Vicente del Bosque’s side have thus far met only Liechtenstein, meaning that they actually trail Scotland and Lithuania in the standings, though that is not a position that is likely to remain unchanged beyond Tuesday, by which time la Furia Roja will have met both of the aforementioned teams.

The Liechtensteiners proved to be no match for the Spanish, who recorded a simple 4-0 victory on foreign soil. Right from the off it was clear that the world champions were in ferocious mood, striking early through Fernando Torres and David Villa, and never looking back.

A long journey only a few days later to Argentina did not prove to be so profitable for the Spaniards, who were thumped 4-1 by the Albiceleste. It may have been something of a fringe squad deployed by coach Vicente del Bosque, but he would not have anticipated the nature of his side’s capitulation in South America.

Now back in front of their home support for the first time since winning the World Cup, la Roja will expect business as usual with a strong victory in their own backyard. It’s been 15 qualifying fixtures since Spain so much as drew (1-1 against Iceland in September 2007), so anything short of a comfortable victory would come as a shock.


Lithuania are not a side with a great pedigree on the continental stage, let alone a world stage, but under the guidance of coach Raimondas Zutautas, they are gradually finding a niche for themselves in amongst the sides on the fringes of competing for qualification.

During their World Cup qualifying campaign, the Easter Europeans earned a couple of shock results as they met the likes of Serbia and France head on, beating the former of those sides in Marijampole. Their encounters against Romania proved pivotal as they finished ahead of the Tricolorii on goal difference, partly thanks to a 3-0 success in Cluj.

And a positive start has been made to their Euro 2012 series. In Kaunas, they picked up a rather fortunate 0-0 draw with Scotland, during which the Scots missed a series of presentable chances to pick up maximum points. Only four days later, the Lithuanians secured a milestone result as they defeated the Czech Republic 1-0 in Prague, propelling themselves into an excellent position in the early stages of the campaign.

Beating Spain will be outside of their capabilities, but the Baltic state will want to give a strong account of themselves so as to reinforce their status as an up and coming nation.



Vicente del Bosque has been forced to cope with a number of injury problems, though the depth in the Spanish game at present means that such issues shouldn’t prove to be especially troublesome. Xavi was the first big name to pull out, and he was quickly followed by Fernando Torres. Cesc Fabregas and Raul Albiol had already been ruled out with long-term ailments.

Pedro and Jesus Navas have also succumbed to injury problems, leaving la Roja looking somewhat depleted going into this double header.


Dominykas Galkevicius has been the main point of concern for the Baltic side but the 23-year-old midfielder seems to have shaken off an injury problem sufficiently to feature.

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