France v Spain – World Cup qualification preview and team news

Reigning World and two times European champions Spain head to Paris facing the remarkable prospect that defeat to France could put their place in Brazil 2014 in jeopardy. The thought of Vicente Del Bosque’s men not being in South America in a year’s time to defend their title is unthinkable but after only taking eight points from their four games played so far, La Furia Roja head to the Stade de France knowing that defeat must be avoided at all costs.

Del Bosque looks set to make several changes to the side that could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Finland on Friday night, with key midfield duo Xabi Alonso and Xavi returning to the starting XI after being rested.

However, the Spanish will be without full-back Jordi Alba after he picked up a thigh injury, with Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal the likely replacement. David Silva is also missing through suspension with his place likely to go to either Juan Mata or Pedro, with Santi Cazorla or Cesc Fabregas dropping to the substitutes’ bench.

The French are in buoyant spirits after their comfortable 3-1 win over Georgia sent them to the top of the group. Their only concern lies up front where Karim Benzema is hopelessly out of form for Les Bleus at the moment. The question is whether coach Didier Deschamps will drop the Real Madrid striker in favour of Olivier Giroud, who started and scored in the victory on Friday.

Elsewhere, it remains to be seen whether youngsters Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba will retain their places after impressing on their international debuts, while Patrice Evra and Yohan Cabaye should return to the starting XI.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on France v Spain

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