ROMANIA - SPAIN
FT: Romania 0-0 Spain
The friendly finishes goalless with the hosts getting quite a reputation for keeping a clean sheet.
Tonight Spain are in Cluj to face Romania [Read the full match report here] in what will be their last friendly before Vicente del Bosque names his squad of 23 players for the European Championships that kick-off on 10 June. And it's an almost completely new starting 11 from that against Italy which will give him a chance to see some of those on the fringes. Only Piqué keeps his place. Players like David De Gea (rested) and Sergio Ramos (knock) will not be on show but are shoo in for the championships assuming no injuries.
Here are the line-ups for both sides:
Romania: Tatarusanu, Sapunaru, Chiriches, Grigore, Filip, Pintilii, Hoban, Stanciu, Stancu, Popa, Andone.
Spain: Casillas, Mario, Piqué, Bartra, Alba, Koke, Sergi Roberto, Silva, Pedro, Nolito, Alcácer.
Romania are an interesting opponent for La Roja to face. It was ten years ago in Cádiz that Spain lost to them prior to embarking on a 35-game run without a loss (picking up some minor silverware in the process). And it is the Romanian's that are currently enjoying a run, 16 without a loss and in that time have only conceded 3 in there last nice games - five of which have been 0-0 draws.
So, with Spain also getting their act together defensively the stats would suggest a goal-fest is not on the cards, however, it's a friendly and nothing is assured, especially with so much experimenting going on. From a Spanish perspective eyes will be focused on the attacking decisions made by Del Bosque which may give clues to the summer squad. Aduriz scored, and impressed, in the last game against Italy so has been left out this time giving an opportunity to Celta's Nolito and Valencia's Alcácer to confirm their seat on the plane or train to France. If neither do much then it may open the strong-springed, and rapidly closing window of opportunity for Diego Costa to get the nod.
It's a team which sees four Barça players start in the week ahead of 'El Clásico': Piqué, Marc Bartra, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto. Meanwhile, not a single Real Madrid man istaking to the field from the off.
Piqué's renewed presence in the eleven is unlikely to go down well at the Camp Nou, despite the expectation being that Nacho will replace him at the break.
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas returns between the sticks, but will make way for Sevilla's Sergio Rico for the final half an hour as the 22-year-old joins Roberto - who will anchor the midfield alongside Atlético Madrid's Koke - in making his international debut.
And of chief interest today is whether Spain will reclaim what they lost in Udine: the ball. You can count on one hand the number of occasions that they have been outdone in the possession stakes, but their stalemate with the Italians was one of those.
We'll have to see if, as one would expect it would, David Silva's presence helps. If there was one thing missing for 'La Selección' at the Stadio Friuli, it was someone willing to put his foot on the ball, dictate the tempo and safeguard possession. With the Canary Islander in from the start, they should be better off in that area. And when Andrés Iniesta comes back in, much better off.
Romania are a side who, like their guests, are in the midst of preparations for this summer's tournament in France. They conceded just twice in qualification under boss Anghel Iordanescu, and are a nation who have traditionally been far from straightforward opposition for Spain. Much the same is anticipated tonight.
A hard, uneven surface at Cluj Arena is likely to prove equally as awkward for the Spaniards, playing into the hands of a home team boasting less formidable talent and going against a visiting outfit with several aiming to book their spot on the plane. Today, in a tougher clash than initially meets the eye, they have the chance.
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