Spain will be aiming to end their qualification campaign for the 2020 UEFA European Championships on a high when they welcome Romania at Wanda Metropolitano.
Just two days of action remain for the first phase of UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers to come to an end. Group F leaders Spain will be looking to continue their solid run of form when they play hosts to Romania at Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid on Monday.
Spain have been on a solid run of form all through 2019 and seem to be finally moving on from their inconsistencies in recent years. The change of guard at managerial level hardly seems to have impacted La Furia Roja, who gave a reminder of their credentials in a 7-0 win over Malta on Matchday 9.
For Romania, on the other hand, it has been a case of so near yet so far, as a 2-0 defeat to Sweden on Friday meant that they stand no chance at qualifying automatically for Euro 2020. But, Cosmin Contra’s men are guaranteed a place in the playoffs as one of the best third-placed teams and will have a second chance at staking claim at next summer’s tournament.
The reverse fixture, played on Matchday 5 in Bucharest, saw ten-man Spain beat Romania 2-1, with Sergio Ramos and Paco Alcacer netting the goals for the former European champions. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Robert Moreno does not have any fresh injury concerns to contend with ahead of his side’s latest fixture. The Spain head coach, though, is likely to shuffle his side up once again as he continues to identify the players who will make the final squad next summer.
Kepa Arrizabalaga is pretty much seems to be assured of a place in the squad for Euro 2020 and is, thus, likely to be rested against Romania once again. Pau Lopez had a quiet outing against Malta, but might make way for David de Gea, who is striving to regain his place as the first-choice goalkeeper for Spain.
The defence should see some changes as well, with Dani Carvajal and Jose Gaya coming into the side as the full-back pairing, replacing Jesus Navas and Juan Bernat. Sergio Ramos ought to start at the heart of Spain’s defence once again, but should have Pau Torres as his partner.
Up ahead in midfield, Rodri will likely make way for Sergio Busquets, while Fabian Ruiz ought to assume the creative hat from Santi Cazorla. Thiago Alcantara should retain his place in the three-man unit and will be charged with driving Spain forward.
Dani Olmo impressed on debut, scoring mere moments after being subbed in. The young forward should be rewarded with a start against Romania. Paco Alcacer is likely to be given a chance to impress, leading the line for Spain, with Mikel Oyarzabal completing the three-pronged attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): de Gea; Carvajal, Torres, Ramos, Gaya; Thiago, Busquets, Ruiz; Oyarzabal, Alcacer, Olmo
Florin Andone is the only casualty for Romania ahead of the visit to Spain. Cosmin Contra otherwise has nearly all of his regulars at his disposal, with the head coach set to name a strong side to take on La Furia Roja on Monday.
Veteran goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu ought to start between the sticks once again, with Contra retaining the 4-4-2 formation from the last game. Romario Benzar and Alin Tosca should return to the starting lineup on either flank, with Adrian Rus and Ionut Nedelcearu continuing their central defensive partnership.
The midfield should see a couple of changes, with Razvan Marin holding the fort in front of defence while Ianis Hagi will be charged with being the creative outlet for the visitors. Nicolae Stanciu could move out wide, with Alexandru Mitrita being the other winger.
Up ahead, Denis Alibec is in contention to start after impressing off the bench against Sweden. Alibec ought to have George Puscas as his strike partner against Spain.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Tatarusanu; Benzar, Rus, Nedelcearu, Tosca; Stanciu, Marin, Hagi, Mitrita; Puscas, Alibec
- Spain have a mixed bag of a record against Romania, having been on the right end of the result in just six of the 16 meetings (D6 L4).
- Spain have not been beaten in any of their last ten games across all competitions (W8 D2).
- Romania have been beaten in just three of their last 18 games, winning 11 of those fixtures (D4).
- Spain are unbeaten in 27 European Championships and World Cup qualifiers (W24 D3), with Slovakia the last team to beat La Furia Roja, back in October 2014.
- Each of Romania’s last seven goals have been scored in the second half of their games.
Player to Watch
David de Gea
Upon the retirement of Iker Casillas, David de Gea was deemed as the ‘Chosen One’ to be the legendary goalkeeper’s successor in the Spanish national side. But, for various reasons, de Gea has never quite managed to deliver on a consistent basis, with his struggles at the World Cup last year being his lowest ebb for Spain.
With Kepa Arrizabalaga now the first-choice custodian for Spain, de Gea faces an uphill task to usurp the Chelsea man. A strong showing against Romania could, therefore, help him give Robert Moreno some food for thought heading into next summer’s European Championships.
Spain 3-0 Romania
The Spanish national side seems to be taking to the ways of Robert Moreno, slowly but surely, with fluidity being the name of the game. Defence still has some chinks in the armoury, and could be put to the test by Romania. But, another solid collective showing could be in the offing, and The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 win for the hosts.