Georgia vs. Spain  0 - 1

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Del Bosque credits stubborn Georgia

12 September 2012 14:45

Vicente del Bosque says Georgia made life difficult for Spain in the wake of his side's hard-fought 1-0 win in Tbilisi on Tuesday.

The home side appeared to be on their way to an unlikely draw until Roberto Soldado's late goal helped the reigning champions to all three points in their first 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

"I want to congratulate Georgia for their extraordinary performance. They put us in a lot of difficulty with their enthusiasm and their ability to defend all our attacks through both the centre and the wings," Del Bosque told the FIFA website.

"In this sense, it was not an easy match and they made it difficult for us, but we won three important points.

"We knew they would be organised, defend well and that they have options up front with strength that we had to be careful of. It wasn't through courtesy that I spoke about them being a strong rival beforehand.

"The differences in football are getting smaller every day. We have to play a qualification campaign and we can't think about anything other than just qualifying."

Spain's next qualifier is a clash away to Belarus on October 12.

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World Cup qualifying preview: Spain v Georgia

11 September 2012 08:36

Reigning world and European champions Spain kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign with a trip to Georgia on Tuesday.

Forgotten striker David Villa is touted as a chance to start in Vicente Del Bosque's 11 in Tbilisi in Spain's Group I opener.

The Georgians got their qualifying off to an ideal start with a 1-0 home win over Belarus on Friday, however another clean sheet does not seem likely with the star-studded Spaniards looking to set the tone for their campaign.

Since winning Euro 2012, the Spanish side have beaten Puerto Rico 2-1, a match they were expected to easily win, before thrashing minnows Saudi Arabia 5-0.

Georgia are not much of a step up from that competition, despite Temuri Ketsbaia's men winning their first game in the qualifying group for the finals in Brazil in 2014.

Villa, however, is the story of the Spain squad at the moment, as he returned to the international scene against the Saudis and scored from the penalty spot - his first goal for his country since breaking his leg at the Club World Cup in December, while representing Barcelona.

The Barca front man and veteran of 83 international caps said he was feeling confident his body is holding up after the serious injury.

"I have not felt any concern since the first day I returned to training seven weeks ago and there has been no problem since the operation," Villa said.

"I am building up muscle tone, confidence and strength in my movement.

"I have been training a long time now and the body is adapting but whether I can play from the beginning is a decision for the coach."

He will have to beat Georgian goalkeeper Giorgi Loria if he is to add to his 52 international goals, with the shot-stopper in fine form after keeping a clean sheet against the Belarusians on Friday.

The qualifier will be the first time the two nations have met on the international football stage.

Article

Casillas questions qualifying format

10 September 2012 20:31

Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas has raised concern over the possibility of his side failing to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

The reigning champions were previously awarded the automatic right to defend their title at the next tournament, but following FIFA rule changes Spain will have to go through UEFA qualifying if they are to be in Brazil in two years.

"Obviously it is strange and unusual that the world champions do not have an automatic ticket for Brazil," Casillas told AS.

"It could happen that we do not reach the World Cup and it would be strange if the champions were not there to defend their title, but we are just thinking about what we are doing."

Drawn in Group I of qualifying, Casillas singled out France as his team's greatest obstacle, with Georgia, Finland and Belarus the other countries in the pool.

"We want to get our first three points, knowing that, in theory, we have games which should not bring us problems, apart from France," he said.

"But we know that these are opponents who can take points off us."

The Spanish team's most-capped player then discussed the opening match against Georgia on Tuesday.

"We know their keeper, (Giorgi) Loria, who was phenomenal against Belarus. We know (Jano) Ananidze, who is a good player.

"As I knew I would be asked, I learned their names."

Article

Del Bosque calls for Spanish focus

10 September 2012 15:12

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque wants his team to make a flying start when their World Cup qualifying campaign begins against Georgia.

The reigning world and European champions were grouped with France, Finland, Georgia and Belarus in Group I, and Del Bosque has demanded a top performance in opening game on Tuesday.

"The World Cup does not start in 2014, but now, here against Georgia in Tbilisi," Del Bosque told AS.

"To defend the title that Spain won in Johannesburg we need to first qualify for Brazil."

"The players know that we are starting a tough qualification phase, where we cannot afford to be complacent because a mistake could be a problem."

Spain warmed up for the match against Georgia with a 5-0 friendly win over Saudi Arabia on Friday.