AFG Arena in St Gallen, Switzerland will host European champions Spain and resurgent Serbia side, led by former Fiorentina boss Sinisa Mihajlovic. The game will serve as a great opportunity for Spain boss Vincent del Bosque to see his players in action before he names the final squad for the Euro 2012, whereas the Serbia coach is also looking to test some new players before the start of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
No Barcelona and Athletic players
After winning the European Championship 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, Spain are looking to win their third major tournament in a row, which would certainly be a tremendous achievement. La Furia Roja were absolutely perfect in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, having won all eight games in the group, which is why nobody was concerned with friendly defeat to England and 2-2 draw with Costa Rica. Due to their commitments in Copa del Rey final, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao players will not be in contention for the Serbia game, but that will give Vincent del Bosque a chance to test a number of back-up players before he names his final squad for the Euro 2012. That basically means that we won’t see Xavi, Iniesta, Javi Martinez and Llorente, but that shouldn’t prove to be a problem with the likes of David Silva, Juan Mata, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres in the squad. All things considered, I expect another comfortable win from La Furia Roja.
David Villa and Carles Puyol have been ruled out through injury, whereas Bruno Soriano, Benat Extebarria and Isco are the main novelties in the squad.
Beginning of an era for Serbia
After Serbia missed out on the Euro 2012 and finished a very disappointing qualifying campaign, the national team chiefs decided it was high time for a major overhaul and entrusted Sinisa Mihajlovic with a task of rejuvenating the squad. Key players Nemanja Vidic and Dejan Stankovic announced retirement from international football immediately after the end of the qualifiers, while senior players Nikola Zigic, Marko Pantelic, Milan Jovanovic and Milos Krasic were left out of the squad for the three friendly matches. The current Serbia squad is filled with talented players plying their trade across Europe, but they obviously lack the experience to match a side like Spain and are bound to have problems when facing some of the best players in the world. Numerous withdrawals also disrupted the preparations, but the good thing is Mihajlovic had called 31 players to begin with. While all areas of the team look pretty solid, there is an obvious lack of a proven goalscorer in the squad, with Osasuna back-up striker Dejan Lekic likely to start against Spain.
Milos Ninkovic, Danko Lazovic, Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Aleksandar Lukovic are out through injury, while Pavle Ninkov and Srdjan Mijailovic are also out of contention for the Spain game.
Spain players will take this game very seriously seeing they are fighting for the opportunity to play at the European Championship, and the absence of Barca and Athletic players should prove to be such a big problem. Serbia, on the other hand, are in the process of team rebuilding and with so many inexperienced players in the ranks, they cannot be expected to match world champions Spain.
Our prediction: Spain with -1 Asian handicap
Odds: 1.75 (3/4)