Madrid will play host to a clash of two football titans as Spain host France with the winner looking to take control of group I.
Spain’s unprecedented dominance in international football the past four years could be considered the most dominate performance of any team, ever. Winning three consecutive international titles: European Cup in 2008, 2012 and the World Cup in 2010, Spain has long been considered the best team ever to take the pitch.
But Spain cannot overlook a French team who enjoyed success early last decade after they captured their first World Cup title in 1998. Unfortunately, the past few tournaments have not showcased the best of French football.
The French failed to get out of the group stage during the Euro Cup this past summer amid rumors of player fights and issues with playing time for many players who were regular starters on their league teams.
With every game during World Cup qualifying so important France will look to forget past poor performances and regain form that led them to the top of international football, while Spain looks to keep their top spot.
Spain will be monitoring defender Sergio Ramos after he was forced to leave the last match against Belarus with a muscle contusion. Should Ramos not be fit to play, Vicente del Bosque will have to shoulder the defensive burden given that both Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol are injured and not expected to play for several weeks.
Raúl Albiol and Sergio Busquets could line up alongside Bosque on the back line which seems as the wisest choice for Spanish coach Javier Clemente.
France will be the most talented team that Spain has played thus far in qualifying for the World Cup. And that translates into added pressure for Didier Deschamps as this would be his biggest test since becoming coach in the wake of the Euro Cup calamity this past summer.
France would do well to forget the team’s recent 1-0 loss against Japan last Friday during a friendly and critics will be monitoring the demeanor of the players when they take the pitch to sniff out any dissent in the French side. Deschamps will do well to lean on veteran players in this contest.
France will be without Clement Chantome who left the match against Japan, but they should have Manchester United star Patrice Evra and Yohan Cabaye ready to play.
Kick-off for the match is at 3:00 p.m. EDT and can be watched on ESPN2 or online here.