Predicting the Spain Starting XI to Face Haiti

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2013

DONETSK, UKRAINE - JUNE 27:  Fernando Llorente of Spain hugs team mate Gerard Pique (L) and Sergio Ramos hugs Iker Casillas after victory during the UEFA EURO 2012 semi final match between Portugal and Spain at Donbass Arena on June 27, 2012 in Donetsk, Ukraine.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Spain begin their preparations for the Confederations Cup at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Saturday.

Their opponents will be Haiti, who are currently placed 63rd in the FIFA world rankings; La Roja are top. The match will help raise money for the Phoenix Project, which has been supporting Haitian redevelopment since the 2010 earthquake.

Vicente del Bosque has taken a 23-man squad to America, ahead of moving down to Brazil, and is only bereft of Carles Puyol and Xabi Alonso through injuries.

Friendlies are always unpredictable, especially postseason and before a tournament. Del Bosque may use the game to check out some players he wants to cast a more detailed eye over, or he may choose to jell his favored 11.

Here's a taster of what he might go with...


Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas

Rejected by Jose Mourinho in favor of Diego Lopez, who doesn't even make the Spain squad, Iker Casillas will be excited to have linked up with the national team.

Del Bosque has always made San Iker his No. 1. His lack of games at club level recently make him even more likely to start this weekend, as his manager looks to give him some playing time ahead of the Confederations Cup.


Defence: Cesar Azpilicueta, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba 

Three of la Roja's back four pick themselves; Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba. That will certainly ring true when Spain start the Confederations Cup against Uruguay, although Raul Albiol or Nacho Monreal may be used in the friendlies leading up to that match.

On the right it is an intriguing battle between the two A's for the fullback position—Alvaro Arbeloa and Cesar Azpilicueta. The former is well known in the national team's setup, while the latter is only recently emerging as a squad regular. Expect the Chelsea man to start.


Double pivot: Javi Martinez, Sergio Busquets 

Considering how good Javi Martinez is—even more so since he's proved himself in a treble-winning Bayern Munich side—it's a shame he's only won nine caps.

And, but for the injury to Xabi Alonso, it's questionable if he'd even have been a guaranteed starter this summer—given Del Bosque's obvious preferences (with good reason).

With Alonso out, though, Martinez and Sergio Busquets should be able to form quite the double act in front of Spain's back four—they're both only 24 too.


Triumvirate: David Silva, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta 

Spain's mister could have so much fun when it comes to filling his advanced midfield slots. Santi Cazorla and Juan Mata have been two of the Premier League's best players this season, Pedro Rodriguez is la Roja's top scorer in 2012/13 and Manchester City have just forked out top dollar on Jesus Navas for a reason.

In the past they've all been made to sit on the bench though, behind the 62-year-old's preferred combination of David Silva, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. It's likely they'll all start against Haiti too, before being replaced at different stages.


Forward: Roberto Soldado 

Ah, the No. 9. Or the false nine in some cases. Spain's problem area, as acknowledged by Del Bosque this week, via Soccerway:

"We need players up front who participate, ones who are visible and actively taking part during the game. A few have been given run-outs, Negredo, Torres, Soldado, even Villa hasn't really bowled us over either."

His other, and possibly more likely, option is of course Cesc Fabregas, but for this weekend's friendly expect him to extend another chance to one of his natural front men. Roberto Soldado, with 24 Liga goals, is certainly the most deserving of the role at the moment.