World Cup news

Busquets: Pressure is on for Spain

March 25, 2013
By Ian Holyman, France Correspondent

Sergio Busquets has said "a great nation is going to miss out on automatic qualification" for the 2014 World Cup and the pressure is on Vicente del Bosque's side as Spain prepare to take on France in a crucial match in Paris.

Spain
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Following France's win over Georgia and Spain's draw with Finland on Friday, the reigning European and world champions trail Les Bleus by two points in Group I.

Although both will have three qualifiers remaining after the match in Paris, it is likely to be decisive in determining which claims top spot - and with it automatic qualification for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

Barcelona's Busquets, 24, is set to take his place in the visitors' midfield and, after seeing France push forward to earn a draw in Madrid in October, said he hoped the advantage Didier Deschamps' men have will not discourage them from being equally adventurous on Tuesday.

"Many teams change their tactics against us," he told Le Parisien. "Sometimes, we'd like to go toe-to-toe with them. It's rare that happens.

"France did it recently, but normally it's our fault if we mess up a game, which goes to show that we're not invincible.

"If we don't win, it'll be difficult to qualify automatically for Brazil. A great nation is going to miss out, but that's the way it is. It often happens with Barca as opponents park the bus. It's frustrating, unjust even. But we're La Roja and the team to beat. When we say 'each game is difficult', it's not just empty rhetoric."

Olivier Giroud struck four minutes into added time at the Vicente Calderon stadium in mid-October to secure a morale-boosting 1-1 draw for France.

As much as the result, the bullish performance convinced the French squad that Spain could be pipped to top spot in the group.

But Busquets said he and his team-mates had played the greatest role in their setback that night and should have sewn the game up earlier on.

"I thought they were passive for the first 45 minutes. We didn't have a problem building play," he said. "We should have killed the game off, but we missed an important penalty.

"We lost the ball stupidly. I was furious after that game. We should have been more intelligent. We should have passed the ball round and killed time.

"But when we lost the ball, we were all up the pitch trying to score. I don't understand our attitude. The match was a failure."

Vicente del Bosque's men are unlikely to make the same mistake again on Tuesday, and Busquets warned fans not to expect to see Spain being gung-ho.

"If we stay solid in defence, we'll have a good chance of winning. I don't see a crazy game. Two goals at most," he said.