Belarus vs. Spain: Powerful Spanish Side Must Not Underestimate Belarusians

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2012

KIEV, UKRAINE - JULY 01: Iker Casillas of Spain celebrates their victory after the UEFA EURO 2012 final match between Spain and Italy at the Olympic Stadium on July 1, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

You couldn't blame Spain if they looked past a match with Belarus in the forthcoming tilt, considering they have a game against France in the country's World Cup qualifiers over the next week. After all, Belarus is ranked 87th in the world compared to a Spanish side that simply doesn't lose.

But be forewarned, Spain—traveling to take on Belarus is not a match to simply be overlooked. The Belarusians will come to play.

To their credit, the Spaniards don't seem to be counting their eggs before they've hatched. Javi Martinez—a part of the Bayern Munich side that shockingly lost to BATE Borisov in Champions League play, 3-1—had the following to say (from the Associated Press via the Boston Herald):  

"BATE is a team that looks to hit on the counterattack," said Spain defender Javi Martinez, who played for Bayern in its loss to a side containing several Belarus internationals. "They are physically very strong and they don't concede many scoring chances. I imagine (Belarus) will play the same way.

"Everyone wants to beat us," Martinez added. "It is an extra motivation for them, and we have to keep that in mind."

The Spaniards don't just have to deal with a motivated Belarus side playing in front of their countrymen, either. There will be no Gerard Pique or Carles Puyol on the back line. Vicente Del Bosque has not called up the red-hot Juan Mata for the team's next two qualifiers.

So no, this isn't Spain at its finest.

Nevertheless, this is still the best side in the world over the past six years. The Spaniards have won 23 straight European Championship and World Cup qualifiers. They won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships and the 2010 World Cup. 

And they have plenty of motivation themselves. Beating Belarus and France will be vital steps toward winning Group I, the best bet toward qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Games against countries like Belarus have to end in victory, it's as simple as that.

So no, Spain shouldn't overlook Belarus. Then again, I highly doubt they will. With plenty of reasons to remain focused on the task at hand—and enough talent to overcome a performance below the lofty heights they can reach—I fully expect Spain to earn the win.

The Spaniards cruise, 2-0. Bring on the French!

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