News Column

Spain to Face Uruguay Without Casillas, Xavi, Alonso

Feb. 4, 2013

Duncan Shaw, dpa

soccer ball

World champions Spain will go into Wednesday's prestigious friendly against South American champions Uruguay without injured Iker Casillas, Xavi and Xabi Alonso.

Casillas, who captained Spain to World Cup glory in 2010 as well as to Euro triumphs in 2012 and 2008, is out for around two months with a broken finger in his left hand.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque will now have to choose between Liverpool's Pepe Reina or Victor Valdes of Barcelona.

Reina did fairly well in Liverpool's 2-2 draw at Manchester City on Sunday, and Valdes was outstanding in Barca's 1-1 draw at Valencia later in the evening.

Meanwhile, Alonso has been ruled out with a groin strain. His place has been taken in the squad by Atletico Madrid youngster Mario Suarez, who has done well for Spain at Under-21 level.

The Barcelona playmaker Xavi withdrew Monday with a pulled muscle in his leg, and not present either is Chelsea striker Fernando Torres, owing to poor form.

Coming in for Torres is Malaga's young sensation Isco, who raised eyebrows across Europa in the autumn when he helped his side into the round of 16 of the Champions League.

"I just can't wait to join the squad, this is wonderful news for me," said Isco, who scored in Malaga's 1-1 draw with Zaragoza on Sunday.

"If I am called upon to play then I will really try to make the most of the opportunity."

Also in the squad is right-back Cesar Azplicueta of Chelsea.

The match will be played in the Qatari capital of Doha, where the 2020 World Cup will, controversially, be staged.

"This will be an important test for us, against experienced and high-quality opponents," del Bosque said.

Wednesday's friendly will be an appetizer for the clash between the two champions in Recife, Brazil, in the Confederations Cup on June 16.

Leading the Uruguay attack will be veteran Diego Forlan, who knows Spanish football well after successful spells at Atletico Madrid and Villarreal.

Alongside Forlan will be Edinson Cavani, who is in spectacular form for Italian club Napoli.

In the squad announced last week by Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez, there are seven players based in Italy, five from Spain, three from England and two from Brazil, with only two players from the Uruguayan league called up.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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