FIFA Confederations Cup Preview: Spain v Tahiti
By Football News
Spain will look to continue their 26-game unbeaten run when they face FIFA Confederations Cup minnows Tahiti on Thursday at the Maracana.
Tahiti, competing in the tournament after winning the OFC Nations Cup, did themselves plenty of credit, despite a heavy loss 6-1 to Nigeria on Monday night.
The consolation goal from Jonathan Tehau, which came after a corner from the team's only professional Marama Vahirua, will mean a lot to the minnows, whose coach Eddy Etaeta had claimed he could only dream of his team finding the net before the game.
Spain, on the other hand, won their first match 2-1 against Uruguay on Sunday at the Arena Pernambuco.
The first goal was somewhat unfortunate for Uruguay, as Barcelona player Pedro's shot took a heavy deflection off defender Diego Lugano to deceive keeper Fernando Muslera.
Cesc Fabregas was influential at the point of Spain's midfield and notched a fine assist in their second as he played in Roberto Soldado before Luis Suarez scored an incredible 30-yard free-kick.
Despite their differing starts to the competition, and their history, Spain will treat the fixture like any other and will remain defiant in elongating their record.
Winger Pedro has insisted that they will respect their opponents, despite there being 137 teams separating them in the FIFA rankings.
"It is true that we are clear favourites, but we just have to play our best and respect Tahiti, never say we're going to obliterate them," he said.
With all of Spain's regulars featuring at top European clubs, and many starting for Barcelona and Real Madrid, there is a stark comparison with Tahiti who have just one professional player.
Vahirua, who made his international debut against Nigeria, played last season on loan at Greek side Panthrakikos from Ligue 1's Nancy.
Of the remaining 22 players, nine of them, including their coach Eddie Etaeta, do not have jobs in their homeland.
The two sides have never met, but while a win might not be in the sights of the Tahitians, they will be hoping to keep Spain's score modest just like Haiti did on June 8 when they lost 2-1 in a friendly.