World Friendlies: Spain vs Saudi Arabia Preview

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Friendly: Spain vs Saudi Arabia Preview
Pontevedra, Sept 7: Reigning European and World champions Spain are gearing up to retain the World Cup crown in Brazil. La Roja begin their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign against Georgia on Tuesday but first play Saudi Arabia in a friendly match at home on Friday.

Saudi Arabia manager Frank Rijkaard, who had a successful spell with Barcelona from 2003-2008, failed to guide the Asian giants to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

While Spain begin their title defence but face Saudi Arabia for the second time since 2010 in which Vicente Del Bosque's side won 3-2. David Villa, Fernando Llorente and Xabi Alonso scored in that friendly.

Del Bosque is likely to retain the 4-3-3 combination which proved successful at Euro 2012. With a strong 23-man squad, Spain are likely to emerge winners. Though Villa returned to training, he lacks match fitness but is expected to come off the bench while Fernando Torres is likely to start upfront.

Midfielders Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets will start in midfield while UEFA player of the year Andres Iniesta will play on the left-flank with club teammate Pedro Rodriguez on the other side.

Centre-back Carles Puyol is sidelined with a jaw injury, however, Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos will continue at the heart of defence.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia have won three out of eight games during their qualifying round. Osama Hawsawi and Sultan Al Namare are the only two players to have scored against Spain.

Trivia:

* Spain are the only team to have won three major international titles in a row.

Probable Lineups:

Spain (4-4-3): Casillas-Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba-Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Busquets-Pedro, Torres, Iniesta.

Saudi Arabia (4-4-2): Abdullah-Al-Zori, Hawsawi, Al-Mousa, Al-Sharani-Al-Fraidi, Al-Jassim, Ali-Kariri, Al-Shalhoub-Al-Qahtani, Al-Shamrani.

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