Negredo, Monreal set for Spain start
Manchester City’s Alvaro Negredo and Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal look set to start for Spain in Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Belarus -- which will go ahead as scheduled in Palma de Mallorca’s Estadi de Son Moix, despite an explosion at the ground on Thursday.
Both teams were able to train at the stadium -- home of Real Mallorca -- on Thursday evening, as initial fears that the game would have to be postponed or moved elsewhere were allayed.
Reporters at Spain’s pre-game training session said Negredo played up front in the ‘starters’ side, with Cesc Fabregas in midfield, and Atletico Madrid’s Juanfran Torres at right-back. Monreal is also expected to start the game, as first-choice left-back Jordi Alba is out with a hamstring injury.
Negredo’s City colleague Jesus Navas could also feature, but perhaps from the bench considering he is competing for a starting spot with Pedro Rodriguez -- who scored a hat trick when Spain won 4-0 in Belarus in Oct. 2012’s first group meeting between the two sides.
The Barcelona winger told reporters on Thursday he was especially fond of that memory and was looking forward to something similar again.
"It was a special game and a nice one for me as I scored three goals,” Pedro said. “The truth is that, with La Seleccion, I have had the good fortune to achieve many important things, but I have a great memory of that game. We hope to repeat the win, we are very up for it.”
Spain also face Georgia at home on Tuesday in Albacete, and need four points from their two games to seal direct qualification for next summer’s World Cup.
But Pedro said La Roja do not always have it their own way in home games, and had conceded a late equaliser to Finland in Gijon last March.
“We have, luckily, the fresh memory of what happened with Finland,” he said. “All opponents are difficult, and in Minsk they created some dangerous chances. They will make it difficult for us. We are favourites and will go out to win, but we expect a difficult game against an opponent who will sit deep and defend in their half.”
Pedro had been speaking before Thursday’s accident in the car park at the Son Moix. Three workers were injured when a generator exploded, and two remain in intensive care in Palma hospital, both with very serious burns.
Royal Spanish Football Federation general secretary Jorge Perez told Marca that, while he remained concerned about those who had been hurt, he was confident the game would go ahead at 10pm BST on Friday as planned.
"The most dramatic thing is the three injuries,” Perez said. “Our information is that everything will be sorted out in time. The game can be played as normal in Son Moix."