Francisco Seco/Associated Press
Spain will host Costa Rica in Malaga on Saturday in an international friendly in preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Both teams have already qualified and are expected to experiment with their formations and players. As shared by sports writer Jonas Giaever, La Roja have called up several fringe players, while the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta and Aritz Aduriz stay home:
Jonas Giæver @CheGiaevara
Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto both “LFC flops”, are in the Spain squad v Russia and Costa Rica. Guess we should judge on more than bad corners https://t.co/Pi8u1KMGFo
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming match.
Date: Saturday, November 11
Time: 8:30 p.m. GMT/3:30 p.m. ET
Venue: La Rosaleda, Malaga
TV Info: ESPN 3 (U.S.)
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Costa Rica qualified directly from CONCACAF thanks to a great run early in the Hexagonal, but the team has not been in great form of late, failing to win their last three qualifiers. Their final outing was the defeat in Panama that sent the United States crashing out of the qualification tournament.
La Sele have travelled to Europe without Joel Campbell and Keylor Navas, and the top players in the squad are Bryan Ruiz of Sporting CP and Celso Borges of Deportivo La Coruna. On paper, Costa Rica should be no match for Spain.
RODRIGO ARANGUA/Getty Images
La Roja have tremendous depth, and their fringe players are likely to see plenty of minutes during the two friendlies—the second is against Russia on Tuesday. Manager Julen Lopetegui knows what he has in the likes of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique―he’s expected instead to gauge what Alberto Moreno, Alvaro Odriozola and others can bring to the team.
The former has been one of the revelations in the Premier League this season, bouncing back after a dreadful start to his Liverpool career. Reds legend John Arne Riise rightly congratulated the full-back with his call-up:
John Arne Riise @JARiiseOfficial
Congrats to @lfc18alberto for making the Spain squad! What a brilliant way to turn things around mate! People should look at you and learn👏🏻
Luis Alberto has been fantastic for Lazio this season, and he too has been rewarded with a call-up. His versatility would be an excellent weapon to add to Spain’s squad, especially in a long tournament where injuries and suspensions occur.
Valencia’s Rodrigo could well make the World Cup squad over Aduriz if his great form endures―and if he shows his worth against Costa Rica and Russia―while Suso’s solid play for Milan should make him a lock for the tournament.
Lopetegui will likely use his starters more against Costa Rica than Russia given the fact the match is at home, and in all likelihood, Spain will cruise to an easy win.
Prediction: Spain 4-1 Costa Rica