Del Bosque targets perfect record as attention shifts to opponents

Despite having already booked their ticket for the 2012 European Championship finals, Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain side will be looking to continue a 100% record in Group I. Spain are sitting pretty at the top of the group with a perfect six wins out of six, ensuring their qualification with two games to spare.

Coach Del Bosque will no doubt be well aware that his team’s remaining fixtures will be far from easy. The world champions are preparing to face off against the Czech Republic and Scotland, the two teams battling it out for second position in the group and a place in the play-offs. Neither side should be expecting any favours as Del Bosque has insisted his players will be going out to claim maximum points

“I want to win games no matter what the situation is or what we have done. You must be professional and I think the other nations in the group will expect that,” said the experienced Coach.

“You could lie down but we want to keep winning before the finals and the players will be looking to make sure they play in the finals. We might be through but we want to finish the group with a flourish.”

Spain travel to Prague on Friday to take on the Czech Republic, while Scotland face an away trip to Liechtenstein on Saturday. The Scots then take on Spain three days later in Alicante while the Czechs will be on the hunt for three points away to Lithuania on the same evening. The Czech Republic currently have the upper hand. Michal Bilek’s men sit second in the group, having accumulated 10 points from their six games with Scotland just two points behind, having played the same number of games.

Coach Bilek has spoken out in a confident fashion vowing to all but end Scotland’s qualification hopes this weekend. After seeing his side earn a crucial 2-2 draw in Scotland in the last round of fixtures, it seems he now believes they have what it takes to defeat Spanish and nail down a play-off spot with a game still left to play.

“We don’t want to rely on Spain beating Scotland in the last game,’ he said. ‘The target for us is to be sure of a play-off slot before we go to Lithuania in our final group game. We were close to getting something in Spain last time we played them remember?

“But of course if we had beaten Lithuania at home this would all be unnecessary and we would’ve already claimed second place. We have made this harder for ourselves, but we are confident we will do enough. The last thing we want to have to do is get the calculator out.”

However should Craig Levein’s side win in Liechtenstein on Saturday and Spain prevail against the Czech Republic, then Scotland’s destiny will rest in their own hands, albeit in the form of a daunting clash against the World and European champions. Scotland’s squad met up this week determined to stay on the road to Poland and Ukraine this summer.

Midfielder James Morrison is adamant that he and his fired–up teammates can still pip the Czechs to the all important play-off spot: “Not one of the boys who has joined the squad had given up on this. We are still convinced we can get a play-off spot, despite the fact we’ve been written off and need the Czechs to slip up.

“We have to take it to the final game and defeating Liechtenstein is the first task. If we can get the right result we’ll go into the last match with a chance, and you just don’t know what can happen over a single 90 minutes.”

Morrison continued: “We won’t be given a chance against Spain. They are World champions and strong favourites to beat everyone. But how many gave Scotland a chance of beating France in Paris during the last Euro campaign? It can be done and we will not give up until the last minute.”

One thing is for certain. Should the group go to the wire, then expect an electric atmosphere in Alicante’s Estadio Jose Rico Perez come Tuesday night. Around 7,000 Scottish fans are expected to travel for the game, after the Spanish allowed fans to buy tickets in the home areas of the stadium to meet the demand after the initial allocation was sold out.

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