Changes are needed to keep qualification in Spain's hands

Spain's draw in the opening game leaves them needing 3 points against Australia


In their second match of the tournament, Spain are already facing their first final. The 0-0 draw against Egypt in the opening game leaves Spain needing a win against Australia to keep qualification in their own hands, allowing them to head into the final game as group leaders. Head coach Luis de la Fuente is expected to make several changes for this all-important match.

By beating Australia, Spain would head into the final group game against Argentina as group leaders. If they draw, or worse, they risk going into the final game in second place or even lower, risking their qualification to the knock-out rounds.

Despite starting the tournament as outright favourites, Spain did not live up to this tag against Egypt. They struggled to cope with their opponents' physicality and it was felt that various players were short of fitness. The latter is particularly concerning, given the short time between games in tournament football: there is little time for anything besides recovery sessions and preparation sessions for the upcoming fixtures.

La Roja disappointed in attack in the opening game, with only Dani Ceballos offering something different. The midfielder had to be taken off at the end of the first half after being on the receiving end of a tough challenge from Taher Mohamed. The challenge was so hard, in fact, that his left ankle and foot are still swollen and he will not be available for Sunday's game. Following the crunching tackle, the referee was asked to check the pitch-side monitor to see if the challenge was worthy of a red card. Strangely, and contrary to the rules, the referee decided to brandish a yellow card.


Óscar Mingueza, who is struggling with a problem in his left hamstring, will also be missing from Sunday's game. While some changes will be enforced by injury, others will be made because the team is in need of fresh legs. It is understood that Luis de la Fuente will bring Real Sociedad's Martín Zubimendi back into defensive midfield following his recovery from injury.

Mikel Merino struggled to get going in the game against Egypt, perhaps as a consequence of being out of action for 100 days at the back end of last season. Luis de la Fuente is considering replacing him with Valencia's Carlos Soler, who did well in his 25-minute showing against Egypt and also scored in the friendly against Japan. Behind him, Zubimendi could play in the anchor role and Pedri will be given greater freedom to roam as an '8'. Óscar Gil is the natural replacement for the injured Mingueza, but the rest of the back line will remain untouched.

Spain's set up in the opening game included a false 9 up front. However, Wolves' Rafa Mir - a more traditional type of striker - did well after coming off the bench. While he missed a couple of chances late in the game, these were chances that he would normally finish off, and it is understood that he could be brought into tomorrow's starting line up. Out wide, Bryan Gil would be a good option to bring much-needed energy and dynamism to the side, and the Spurs-bound winger could replace either Asensio or Dani Olmo.

Spain's opponent, Australia, will come into the game bursting with confidence after their 0-2 win against Argentina in their opening game. They will play with a standard 4-4-2 system and will look to do damage on the break, predominantly through their wide--men Lachlan Wales and Manchester City's Daniel Arzani.


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