While World Cup places are being fought over this week—including Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden battling one another for a spot in Brazil—Spain is simply contesting friendlies between Equatorial Guinea and South Africa.
While the first game comes with its fair share of controversy (more on that below), it should be a walk in the park for a Spanish side still ranked No. 1 in the world.
or Equatorial Guinea, the game is simply a chance to play against some of the world's best players.
Let's take a closer look at this international friendly.
When: Saturday, November 16 at 4 p.m. ET (9 p.m. GMT)
Where: Nuevo Estadio de Malabo, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
Watch: ESPN Deportes; WatchESPN
The biggest storyline in this game is the controversy surrounding Spain traveling to Equatorial Guinea in the first place. And it's a political debate that Santi Cazorla said he and his teammates are trying to avoid.
From Dermot Corrigan of ESPN:
The decision of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to play the game has been widely criticised by Spanish and Equatoguinean human rights groups and opposition politicians, who see it as a demonstration of support for dictator Teodoro Obiang.
The long-serving leader has been accused of being responsible for grave inequality and human rights abuse in the Central African nation.
We have read in the press about the controversy, some political things, but we stay away from that. If the federation has decided on the game, it is because they think it is the best option, that there will be no problem and hopefully there will be a nice game of football for people to enjoy.
We are going there to play a game, to be as nice as possible with everyone. Nobody thinks about whether there will be a photo [with Obiang] or things like that.
Per the game itself, it should be a pretty simple business trip for Spain as Equatorial Guinea is No. 119 in the FIFA rankings. Spain has lost just once in 2013—a pretty embarrassing 3-0 loss to Brazil in the Confederations Cup to Brazil—so it's hard to imagine anything but a convincing win in this contest.
One disappointing aspect of this contest for Spain is that Diego Costa—scheduled to be in the squad for the first time ever since switching his allegiances from Brazil to Spain—will be missing the trip due to injury.
Costa has been brilliant this season for Atletico Madrid, with 16 goals in 15 games across all competitions, so he could answer Spain's running question at the striker position.
He'll be replaced by Fernando Llorente, who perhaps will have the opportunity to throw his name into the striker hat for the country as Brazil 2014 approaches.
Obviously, there is no way that Spain will lose this game, as the talent disparity is tremendous. Still, Haiti managed to score a goal in a 2-1 loss over the summer in a friendly, so perhaps Equatorial Guinea will prove to be at least marginally competitive.
But expect this one to be a quick and utter dismantling. Spain wins, 7-0.
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