Spain has dominated international football for almost a decade, but the national team is in a tough spot heading into a match against France.
After a draw with Finland, the Spanish team has only eight points in four matches of this round of World Cup Qualifying. This puts the squad behind France for first place in Group I. If it cannot pass the European rival, Spain could be in line for a playoff to reach the 2014 World Cup.
Meanwhile, the French team is in great shape with 10 points in this tough group with a home match upcoming against Spain. Earning any points will be huge for the goal of qualifying for the next level.
Featuring some of the best players in the world, this should be an entertaining contest throughout.
When: Tuesday, March 26 at 4 p.m. ET
Where: Stade de France, France
Live Stream: ESPN3
What They're Saying
Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas discussed the importance of the upcoming match, considering the current standing in the WCQ table (via NDTV Sports):
The only thing that changes is that a draw with France now isn't enough. But the idea was always to go to France aiming for a victory. We will be highly motivated and we will have to bring out the best in ourselves.
It is one thing to go in looking for a win, but it is another to actually do it. France will not allow goals all that easily in this one.
French Player to Watch: Hugo Lloris
As one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Hugo Lloris has the ability to put his entire team on his back for long stretches of time.
The Tottenham Hotspur keeper has kept his English Premier League team near the top of the table with his great play. With France, he might need to be just as strong.
France scored three times against Georgia, but it will not be that easy to rack up goals against a Spanish group that loves to keep possession for most of the match.
Lloris has to be ready for an attack at any time in order to keep this a low-scoring battle.
Spanish Player to Watch: Andres Iniesta
On a squad full of talented players, Andres Iniesta is the one who has to make things happen offensively.
Throughout his career, the midfielder has been a great distributor. This season, he has 13 assists in La Liga with Barcelona. Unfortunately, Lionel Messi will not be there to finish off plays.
This means that Iniesta must be more aggressive with the ball. He needs to take shots when it is open, and he must get it up front to fellow playmakers like David Villa and Xavi.
Spain only scored one goal against Finland and will face a much tougher defense this time around. Everyone must be at their best in order to get some points, and Iniesta must be the leader.
Prediction: Spain 1, France 1
France has played very well in World Cup Qualifying so far and the squad will not be denied at least a point at home. However, Spain will be desperate, and should be more aggressive than usual.
Look for the Spanish team to control the ball for much of the contest while really working for a goal on the offensive end. Meanwhile, France should be able to get a goal on the counterattack to earn the draw.
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