LIECHTENSTEIN vs SPAIN, Vaduk, 03/09/10
When it comes to underdog stories, it doesn’t come much bigger than Liechtenstein versus Spain, as the minnows have the rare chance to become champions of the world.
Liechtenstein, with a population of only around 36,000 and ranked 141st in the FIFA World Rankings, are regarded my many as the whipping boys of international football. In each of their World Cup and European Championship qualifying campaigns they have finished in last place in the group, the 2006 World Cup being the only exception where they finished one place higher. With most of their players playing with Liechtensteiner clubs, there are few if any recognizable players in their squad, although Mario Frick will be their biggest threat as the nation’s highest-ever goalscorer with 14 goals (a statistic that really highlights the gap betwewn the two nations).
Their history in the UFWC is marginally more respectable. They have competed twice in the UFWC before, the first of which was an 8-2 defeat against Germany. Interestingly, the other match was against Spain in the same home venue as this Friday, where they only lost 2-0, so an upset is far from impossible, and a victory for the challengers will not only mean they become the UFWC champions by beating the undisputed champions of the world, but they will become the smallest nation to ever hold the title, overtaking the Netherlands Antilles, the current holders of that honour.
But their Spanish opponents will not make that an easy feat to achieve. Spain are the World Cup and UFWC Champions, deservedly earning them the title of undisputed world champions. They have named argubally the strongest squad possible for this qualifier and their following friendly against Argentina, comprising some of the biggest names in world football. However Spain only barely retained the title in their last title match with a last-minute equalizer, and this is football, so anything can happen. Deservedly, though, the Spainsh are strong favourites to retain the title, with Liechtenstein 66/1 to overcome possibly the biggest obstacle they will ever face.
If the home team manage to defy the odds and win the UFWC title, their first title defence will be away to Scotland four days later. And if Spain defend the title, they will contest a delicious match against Argentina on the same day.