- (Photo: Reuters/file)
Madrid will play host to a clash of two football titans as Spain hosts 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 dominant performance of any team ever. Spain won three consecutive international titles- the European Cup in 2008 and 2012, in addition to the World Cup in 2010. They has long been considered the best team ever to play football.
With every game during the World Cup qualifying being so important, France will look to forget past poor performances and regain the form that led them to the top of international football. Spain, ever the competitors, is looking to keep the 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. That translates into added pressure for France's coach 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 match. Critics will be monitoring the demeanor of the players when they take the field to sniff out any dissent in the French team. 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.
Kickoff for the match is at 3:00 p.m. EDT and can be watched online here.
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