Madrid, March 24 (IANS) Spain coach Vicente del Bosque will be without left back Jordi Alba for his side’s vital World Cup qualifying game away to France Tuesday.
Alba suffered a slight muscle tear in his right leg during Spain’s 1-1 draw at home to Finland Friday night, reports Xinhua.
That draw leaves Spain two points behind France, who drew the first meeting between the two strongest sides in their qualifying group, and the current World Champions now need a win to return to the top of the group and avoid the prospect of a potentially difficult play-off in order to be able to defend their crown in Brazil.
A draw in Paris would leave Spain needing France to drop points in order to have a chance of finishing top of the group, while a defeat would almost certainly confirm France as group winners.
Del Bosque will almost certainly replace Alba by moving Alvaro Arbeloa across from right back and bringing Atletico Madrid’s Juanfran Torres into the side on the right.
Meanwhile it is not all bad news as the Spanish prepare for their most important game since the 2012 European Championship final.
Midfield duo Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso will be fit to play in Paris after being rested as a precaution for the Finland game. Xavi has struggled in recent weeks with a hamstring problem, while Alonso has had problems with a groin injury.
They will go straight into the side replacing Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas, both of whom were disappointing Friday.