In what is one of the more eye-catching matches in a week of international friendlies, world and European champions Spain will host South American champions Uruguay in Doha on Wednesday. The game continues Spain’s run of high-profile exhibitions played around the globe since their World Cup triumph in 2010.
But the match has plenty of significance too with Spain set for important World Cup qualifiers against Finland and France next month. Spain currently sit level on points with France atop Group I. Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is certainly taking the match seriously and has even earned some criticism for not trying out new names in his squad, like Swansea’s Michu and Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas.
“We recognize his worth and his goals in the Premier League, but we couldn't find a space for him at the moment,” Del Bosque said of Michu, according to FIFA.com. “The same thing happened with Iago Aspas. I'm honest and don't hide anything. In the position which Michu plays there is great competition with five or six players."
One of those players vying for Michu’s position is exciting Malaga attacking midfielder Isco. The 20-year-old reputation continues to flourish on the back of some sparkling performances in the Champions League and he looks set to win his first cap against Uruguay. At the other end of the scale, veteran defender Carlos Puyol looks set to make his first appearance for La Roja in a year and win his 100th cap.
Spain will be missing three of their other most experienced players, however, with Iker Casillas, Xavi and Xabi Alonso all out through injury.
For Uruguay, the friendly is a chance for them to show that they can get back to the form that saw them reach the semifinals of the last World Cup and win the Copa America in 2011. Oscar Tabarez’s side have struggled to replace some of their aging players and have taken just one point form their last four World Cup qualifiers to leave their chances of reaching Brazil next year in real jeopardy.
D: Arbeloa, Puyol, Pique, Alba
M: Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta
F: Silva, Villa, Pedro
D: M. Pereira, Lugano, Godin, A. Pereira
M: Gonzalez, Arevalo, Gargano
F: Suarez, Forlan, Cavani
Prediction: There could be plenty of entertainment on show in Doha, with Uruguay looking set to field the attacking trident that served them so well in South Africa of Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. However, Forlan’s selection also embodies the trouble La Celeste have had in replacing some of the older players. Against Spain’s incessant possession, Uruguay could well tire, allowing Del Bosque’s side to get the win.
Spain 3-1 Uruguay
Where to watch: The international friendly will kick-off at 1 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.