Spain will look to end their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with another win when they visit the Teddy Stadium to face Israel on Monday
The group stage of the European leg of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers comes to an end this week, with the tenth and final round of fixtures. In Group G, Spain will conclude their campaign in Jerusalem on Monday, when they take on Israel at the Teddy Stadium.
The hosts have no chance of qualifying for next summer’s tournament, even through playoffs, as they currently sit in fourth place on 12 points, eight adrift of second placed Italy. However, they will look to end their campaign with two consecutive wins, having seen off Liechtenstein in a 1-0 win on Friday.
Julen Lopetegui’s men, on the other hand, booked their ticket for Russia on Friday as they comfortably beat Albania 3-0 to seal their place atop Group G. La Roja will now be aiming to continue their unbeaten run in qualifiers when they face Israel.
The reverse fixture, earlier in the campaign, ended in a resounding 4-1 win for Spain as David Silva inspired the easy home success. Ahead of their latest meeting on Monday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Elisha Levy does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Spain on Monday. Therefore, as they aim to end their campaign on a high, the Israel boss is likely to pick his strongest possible eleven against La Roja.
Veteran defender Tal Ben Haim will captain the side, and is expected to have Eitan Tibi for company at the heart of the Israel defence. In midfield, Yossi Benayoun is in contention to start, although the likes of Marwan Kabha, Bibras Natcho and Maor Melikson seem to be ahead of him in the pecking order.
Up front, top scorer Tomer Hemed is expected to continue as the central striker, and he will look to add to his tally on Monday, while the likes of Lior Refaelov and Tal Ben Chaim should add the firepower from the wings.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Harush; Keltjens, Ben Haim, Tibi, Davidzada; Kabha, Natcho, Melikson; Refaelov, Hemed, Ben Chaim
Unlike his counterpart in the Israel dugout, Julen Lopetegui has a few roster issues to deal with ahead of the trip to Jerusalem on Monday. In fact, three key first-team players will be absent from his matchday squad against Isreal due to injury or suspension.
The biggest absentees are Gerard Pique and David Silva, both of whom are suspended after being booked in the match against Albania on Friday. While Pique’s void is likely to be filled by Nacho, Silva should be replaced by either Pedro or Jose Callejon, who has earned a recall after strong performances for Napoli.
Meanwhile, Alvaro Odriozola is expected to continue on the right side of defence after a strong debut on Friday. But Nacho Monreal could be handed a rare start in place of Jordi Alba as Lopetegui is expected to make a few changes.
In midfield, Thiago Alcantara will be unavailable due to a knee injury, and the Bayern Munich man could be replaced by the in-form Asier Illarramendi. Up front, Aritz Aduriz could get a start in place of Rodrigo, although the Valencia striker might continue after an impressive outing against Albania.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Odriozola, Ramos, Nacho, Monreal; Saul Niguez, Illarramendi, Koke; Jose Callejon, Rodrigo, Pedro
- Spain are yet to taste defeat against Israel, having gone unbeaten in five previous meetings with them (W4 D1).
- Israel have lose three of their last four competitive outings at home (D1).
- Spain have been imperious in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, having found the back of the net a staggering 35 times – 3.89 goals per game.
- Spain generally have a solid run of results in World Cup qualifiers, having been on an unbeaten run for more than 24 years now. Since 1993, La Roja have won 59 matches, while playing out 13 draws.
- Spain have piled on the pressure as the match has gone on, all through their qualifying campaign, having scored 60% of their goals in the second half.
Player To Watch
Dani Carvajal’s absence due to an unspecified heart problem is likely to be a bitter pill to swallow if the Real Madrid man is forced to be on the sidelines for a long time. However, it has come as a blessing in disguise for a certain Alvaro Odriozola.
Picked in the squad in Carvajal’s stead, the Real Sociedad defender earned a surprise debut against Albania as he was chosen ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta. A strong performance followed, and a similar outing on Monday could give Julen Lopetegui some food for thought heading into Russia 2018.
Should he continue performing strongly, the Spain boss could have a hard time picking two right-backs between Azpilicueta, Carvajal and Odriozola for next summer’s competition, making Monday’s outing all the more important for the latter.
Israel 1-3 Spain
Spain sealed their place in Russia 2018 in style on Friday, and it goes without saying that Julen Lopetegui has worked wonders with the side in just over a year at the helm. On Monday, he should hand some chances to youngsters as he now sets about identifying his best squad for the World Cup.
Despite a few changes being in the offing though, the gulf in talent and class between the two sides will be too big for Israel to make up. Therefore, The Hard Tackle predicts a comfortable 3-1 win for the visitors, with Tomer Hemed likely to get on the score sheet for Israel.