Jordi Alba out as Spain face France in a must-win tie

The prospect of the reigning world champions missing next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil will become a very real one if stumbling Spain suffer another slip-up in France on Tuesday evening.



Vicente Del Bosque’s side have not lost a competitive match since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but two consecutive home draws have seen them fall behind France in this qualifying campaign.



Spain will be without the suspended David Silva as well as left-back Jordi Alba due to injury, with Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal set to replace the latter.



However, Del Bosque is expected to welcome back the influential Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez in midfield.



After being held 1-1 by France in Madrid in October, La Roja allowed Finland to escape with a draw by the same score in Gijon on Friday and are now two points adrift of the French at the top of Group I.



“The result is disastrous,” admitted David Villa after Spain failed to add to Sergio Ramos’ opener against the group’s bottom nation despite monopolising possession and camping in the opposition half, and Finland hit back to equalise late on.



Lose at the Stade de France and Spain will be five points behind Didier Deschamps’ side with just three matches remaining, all but ending their chances of qualifying automatically.



“This game will be a final for both teams,” striker Alvaro Negredo told Spanish media, before adding: “We have the quality to win in any stadium in the world.”



Negredo was one of several attackers used by Del Bosque over the course of Friday’s game, but Spain just could not kill off a well-organised Finnish side.



However, France are likely to adopt a more attacking approach in front of their own demanding support in Saint-Denis, and Negredo believes that will play into Spain’s hands.



“This game will be different to the rest of the qualifying campaign,” he added. “It will be much more open, against a team that will try to create chances and will leave us spaces.



“We will try to benefit from the fact that we will be playing against quality opposition who will look to play football.”



Deschamps’ team played with great maturity in holding the European and world champions in Madrid and eased to a 3-1 victory against Georgia on Friday.



Goals from Olivier Giroud and Franck Ribery either side of a strike by the superb Mathieu Valbuena allowed Les Bleus to see off the former Soviet Republic and take full advantage of Spain’s unexpected faux pas.



“It was like the perfect evening for us,” Deschamps said of Friday night.



Sticking 11 men behind the ball might appear the most likely way of taking anything from Spain, but Deschamps insists that France will try and take the game to their visitors.



“My intentions will not change because Spain’s will certainly not change,” said the 44-year-old, who lifted the World Cup as France captain in 1998.



“They will look to monopolise possession of the ball and win the match. I don’t see myself telling my team to just defend. Spain oblige you to defend but a win would be a very good result for us, even if a draw would still be a good result.



“Our objective is to qualify for the World Cup and the best way to do that is by finishing first in the group.”



However, Deschamps ominously added: “On Tuesday we will still be up against the best team in the world.”



That means that the France coach is likely to ditch the 4-4-2 formation adopted against Georgia in favour of having an extra man in midfield as the hosts look to continue an impressive record in home qualifiers which has seen them lose just two of their last 34.



Newcastle United’s Yohan Cabaye is a contender to return to the starting line-up, while the greatly experienced Patrice Evra of Manchester United should replace Gael Clichy at left-back.



Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema may keep his place in attack despite again flattering to deceive on Friday. He has scored just three times in his last 23 games for his country.

Read more :
  • Roger Federer “super excited” by Olympic Games
    Roger Federer has admitted that he cannot wait to compete in the Olympic Games at Wimbledon later this year. The former world number one, who won gold in Beijing with Swiss partner Stan Wa...
  • UEFA Champions League: Carlo Ancelotti confident of Barcelona upset
    Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti is relishing the challenge of facing Champions League favourites Barcelona in the quarter-finals and believes his expensively assembled side are ca...
  • Messi, Villa combine to sink Rayo Vallecano
    David Villa expressed his delight at returning to top form as he scored and set-up two goals for Lionel Messi as Barcelona beat Rayo Vallecano 3-1 to restore their 13-point lead at the top ...
  • Robin Soderling out for “a few months”
    Robin Soderling has revealed that he is nowhere near making a return to the tennis court. The former world number four has yet to feature this year because he is suffering from mononucleos...
  • Zheng Jie confident for the Olympics
    Zheng Jie has revealed that her performances at Wimbledon have given her confidence for the upcoming Olympic Games in London. Despite taking the first set, the 28-year-old was knocked out ...
  • UE Red Warriors ready to wreak havoc in Season 76
    The University of the East Red Warriors are all set for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 76 which will begin on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pas...
  • Castro passes Tiger’s test to lead National
    Roberto Castro AFP PHOTO BETHESDA, Maryland: Tiger Woods wanted his PGA event to play like a tough US Open-style test and the world number one got his wish in Thursday’s (Friday in Manila)...
  • Watson, DeLaet, Hoffman share PGA Travelers lead
    CROMWELL, Connecticut: Bubba Watson, winless since taking last year’s Masters, struggled to a level par 70 Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to fall into a three-way tie for the lead at the $6.1 ...