We should not underestimate the importance of tonight's game in Jerusalem as it could be instrumental in seeing Spain being one of the top seeds for the 2018 Russia World Cup draw in December as at present it's not certain where Spain will be in the seeding. The only certainty is that failure to win over Israel and we definitely won't be one of the seeded nations. A win is vital and then hope that other results go "La Roja's" way. The other thing to look forward to at the Teddy Stadium tonight is Sergio Busquets earning his 100th international cap. Suspension against Albania deprived him from playing on Friday but tonight's game will see him join that elite circle of players to have worn the red shirt on more than one hundred times.
That "100 Club" evokes such great names: Wright, Bozsik, Charlton, Moore, Beckenbauer, Nordqvist... Back in pre-war times the most capped player in Spain was Zamora with 46 caps, he was soon overtaken by Iribar with his 49 international appearances and then the record stagnated. Why was that? Well, we played less games and failed to qualify for a series of high profile tournaments and on the few occasions where we reached major finals, the result was an early exit. Fortunes changed and Andoni Zubizarreta became the first Spanish international to secure 100 caps, then Raúl and then a series of players from the "golden generation" some who are still, in active service.
Argentina living dangerously
The list of most capped players offers an insight into the recent history of the national side. From 1978 onward, fortunes changed and Spain have qualified for every World Cup since Argentina with only five nations being able to boast of a similar record...Argentina being one of these and it's alarming to see how precarious their current situation is, even more so when their team includes the mercurial talent of Leo Messi. The "Albiceleste" head to the altitude of Ecuador with a ticket for Russia 2018 (or even a play-off) on the line. Barring a miracle, Holland are also set to miss out on a World Cup place and it's somewhat refreshing to see Spain close a successful campaign with a smooth transitional process also taking place.