Spain will host Georgia in the next round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers as La Roja remain eager to bounce back from a rare defeat and get back on track.
Spain hadn’t lost a FIFA World Cup qualifier game since 1993, remaining unbeaten in 66 matches, until last week when Luis Enrique’s side faced Sweden. Alexander Isak and Viktor Claesson scored the goals to beat La Roja, condemning them to their first defeat in 28-years.
The result ensured Group B had a new leader as Sweden took the top spot, as Spain dropped to the second spot. Luis Enrique’s men will be hoping to bounce back and regain composure when they host Georgia in the next round of qualifiers.
While this Spanish side were impressive during their UEFA Euro 2020 campaign, Enrique will be keen for his young squad to reach their potential and take their game to the next level. The ultimate aim would be to conquer the World Cup trophy, although there’s a lot of work to be done before that.
Willy Sagnol will have been pleased with the improvements bought into the team as Georgia came very close to qualifying for the Euros. However, their bid to qualify for their first-ever World Cup finals has already hit major hurdles. As Georgia languish at the bottom of Group B, there’s a huge mountain to climb in front of them.
However, Sagnol will take encouragement from the reverse future against Spain, when Georgia narrowly lost 1-0. They need to win against La Roja to keep any hopes of reaching the Qatar finals alive, while a defeat will end their chances once and for all.
Team News & Tactics
Enrique will be pondering plenty of changes to rotate his playing squad after the defeat to Sweden. These changes are expected in defence and attack, as Enrique gives most of his midfielders a run of games without changing shape.
Meaning, David De Gea, who has started his domestic season rather brightly, could replace Unai Simon in goal. Aymeric Laporte could be the only player to retain his place in the backline. Jose Gaya, veteran Raul Albiol and Marcos Llorente could all come in.
As mentioned, Enrique is expected to retain most of his midfielders. Koke and Carlos Soler are likely to remain, while Rodri Hernandez could replace Busquets. The manager will look to replace personnel in attack, with Pablo Sarabia and Brais Mendez coming in to support Ferran Torres, who is expected to start in the No.9 role.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Llorente, Albiol, Laporte, Gaya; Soler, Rodri, Koke; Mendez, Torres, Sarabia
Willy Sagnol will pick his strongest available lineup in a crucial game for Georgia. However, the manager has to deal with some absentees and injury trouble for a must-win game. Regular centre-back Lasha Dvali is not in the squad, while key wingers Saba Lobzhanidze and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia are unavailable.
Sagnol will be hoping for Jaba Kankava to inspire his teammates on the eve of his 98th cap for Georgia. The midfielder will be eager to impose his experience on the pitch to help his team with a result.
A back four is likely to feature, with a two-man midfield pivot in front of the defence. Otar Kakabadze, Davit Khocholava, Guram Kashia and Guram Glorbelidze are expected to form the defensive line.
Kankava will be partnered by Giorgi Aburjania in a midfield two, while Valeri Qazaishvili will play in an attacking midfield role behind striker Giorgi Kvilitaia. Otar Kiteishvili and Heorhiy Tsitaishvili will support from the wings.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Loria; Kakabadze, Khocholava, Kashia, Glorbelidze; Aburjania, Kankava; Tsitaishvili, Qazaishvili, Kiteishvili; Kvilitaia
- Spain’s defeat to Sweden was their first in 66 World Cup qualifier games. Their last defeat in a World Cup qualifier before the Sweden game came in 1993.
- Georgia have managed zero wins in the qualifying group to date.
- Georgia have failed to win in their last 21 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
Player to Watch
The Manchester City attacker has recently been taking up the No.9 role for club and country. However, he seems to be getting better at it following two goals against Arsenal in the Premier League. Like Pep Guardiola, Enrique would be keen to test Torres in the position against Georgia.
Torres is an intelligent player and knows well the problems Spain have when it comes to a striker. However, if he can replicate his club form on the international stage, then Enrique might consider placing him as his striker for the foreseeable future. Torres is expected to shine against Georgia and help Spain take control of Group B.
Spain 3-0 Georgia
Both teams played out a cagey contest in the reverse fixtures, with Spain winning. However, Enrique’s side might have learnt a lesson or two against their opponents the last time round, with Spain expected to rout Georgia in the upcoming qualifier and get back to winning ways.
La Roja are overwhelming favourites to win this clash and gain momentum over Sweden, who play only on Thursday, and at that time, will have two games in hand over Spain. Enrique’s men need to win this at all costs to keep the pressure on Sweden, at least till midweek.