ARGENTINA vs SPAIN, Buenos Aires, 07/09/10
UFWC champions Spain are back in the Americas today, and will face the toughest test of their current reign. Argentina are the opposition, and are looking to bounce back from World Cup disappointment under caretaker coach Sergio Batista.
The match is being played to commemorate 200 years of Argentinian independence – the country was a Spanish colony until 1810. It’s a busy time for Spain – they were in Mexico last month to commemorate that country’s independence. Very cordial of the Spanish, but could this second long-haul journey in less than a month prove to be a trip too far for the UFWC champs?
Argentina are the most successful non-British team in UFWC history. Spain’s 4-0 victory over Liechtenstein last week was their 17th UFWC win and moved them to 11th in the all-time rankings table. But Argentina have won a massive 50 UFWC title matches – only international football stalwarts Scotland and England can match that total.
The Argentinians haven’t played a UFWC title match since 2003, when they lost 1-0 to the Netherlands. The two sides have met twice before in the UFWC – in 1961, when Spain, led by Argentinian-born Alfredo di Stefano, won 2-1, and in 1971, when Spain won 1-0. Could it be third time lucky for Argentina?
Sergio Batista has recalled defender Javier Zanetti and midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, both ignored by Diego Maradona at the World Cup, into the Argentina side. Andres D’Alessandro should also be back in the starting eleven. Diego Milito will partner Carlos Tevez up front, and Spain will of course be paying close attention to the service they will receive from Lionel Messi.
Spain are likely to start with the same team that saw off Liechtenstein on Friday, with Fernando Torres and David Villa upfront, and Xavi, Alonso, Busquets and Iniesta across the middle.
It looks like being a great match between two sides full of attacking potential. The match is being televised in the UK on ITV4. Coverage begins at 20.45. Kick-off is at 21.00.
Can Spain retain the UFWC title, or will Argentina snatch it from them? Make your prediction and post your comments below, and tune in tonight to find out.