Spain, Peru gear for friendly tie

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:05 IST

Spain's football coach Inaki Saez plans to use Xabi Alonso and Ruben Baraja in the centre of midfield for the friendly against Peru on Wednesday.

Spain, Peru gear for friendly tie

Barcelona:

Spain's football coach Inaki Saez plans to use Xabi Alonso and Ruben Baraja in the centre of midfield for the friendly against Peru on Wednesday, as he looks to test out partnerships ahead of Euro 2004 in Portugal this summer. The Basque coach, who will be taking charge of Spain for the first time at a major international tournament, intends to use the match in Barcelona to test players who are likely to go as squad members. Peru coach Paulo Autuori de Mello has named a strong squad including Aston Villa's Nolberto Solano, Claudio Pizarro of Bayern Munich and Club Brugge star Andres Mendoza as they look to build on their fine start to the CONMEBOL qualifying for Germany 2006. Peru have already beaten Paraguay four-one and drawn with Brazil in their opening two games and face Colombia next in March. Saez has stated that he has seen his first-choice midfield set-up of David Albelda and Baraja play in the centre and he has already used Xabi Alonso with Albelda. So, against Peru it will be Xabi Alonso and Baraja and he will also tinker with the defence and strike force. The Basque coach, who will be taking charge of Spain for the first time at a major international tournament in Portugal, knows that this fixture is ideal for trying new formations. "A couple that has played in the team is Albelda-Baraja. Last match with Noruega we tried Xabi Alonso and Albelda. Tomorrow I want to try Xavi Alonso and Baraja, so to see the efficiency of some couples like the forward and the midfield-forward, or the centre defenders and the wingers. This is the main objective of this match," said Spanish coach Inaki Saez. With players of the calibre of Joaquin and Raul Gonzalez also at his disposal, Saez knows that he has strength in depth throughout his squad, although he was quick to dispel rumours that the controversial penalty awarded to Raul in the weekend's Primera Liga clash will cause friction between the Real Madrid and Valencia players in the squad. Saez was also quick to praise Peru who he feels are well-balanced and have a great combative spirit with players like Claudio Pizarro, Andres Mendoza, Miguel Rebosio and Nolberto Solano. It is that sort of opposition that Saez wants his squad to be tested by. "Now the players have been playing a lot of matches. There are those who play international competitions and also the Spanish cup during this month. Anyway, in these friendly matches we'll try to use the players in spurts, because I want them to arrive to at the end of the Spanish League in the best physical shape. This is the objective in these matches," said Inaki Saez, Spanish coach Peru coach Paulo Autuori de Mello is looking to build on their fine start to the CONMEBOL qualifying for Germany 2006. So far, they have beaten Paraguay four-one and drawn one-all with Brazil in their opening two games and face Colombia next in another crucial qualifier. New Aston Villa signing Nolberto Solano knows how vital that match will be. "We'll play like a home team and we must benefit from it. We said that we need to start to add the three points, in order to achieve the desire of going to the World Cup next year. We have to achieve the three points, above all playing like a home team," said Nolberto Solano, Aston Villa and Peru. Solano's coach de Mello also knows that a good performace in Barcelona can propel the team to even greater heights against Colombia as an unbeaten run breeds confidence. National pride is high on his agenda. "Anyway, we want to show our best side. The guys personally and Peru like a team wish to show that the national team of Peru can be a competitive team, respecting the rival. One thing is respect and the other is fear. We are going to play thinking that the best way to respect the rival is playing to the limits, physically, technically, tactically and mentally," said Paulo Autouri de Mello, Peru coach. Spain also have scheduled friendlies against potential Euro 2004 rivals Denmark and Italy as well as minnows Andorra. Wednesday's clash should be a mouth-watering aperitif for those upcoming fixtures. (AP)



Topics : Football
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