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Cádiz in seventh heaven as Spain come to town

Spain coach Robert Moreno is calling his team to win both of their last Euro 2020 qualifiers to guarantee that they finish top of Group F and end among the top seeds for the tournament draw at the end of this month. Until this edition of the tournament, the top seeded teams were based on the UEFA coefficient system. This time, it will be the top six nations with the best points’ tallies from the 10 qualifying groups who will enter Pot 1. It effectively means that even if a county has already qualified for the finals, they may still need results from these last two matchdays. It’s a good idea as it maintains a bit of excitement right the way to the end of the qualifying round. By my calculations, the key game for us will be Monday’s game against Romania rather than tonight’s against Malta. None of us will ever forget that famous 12-1 win against Malta back in 1983 – and even the result tonight could be irrelevant if Malta end up finishing in last place in the group.

Spain training at the Carranza yesterday
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Spain training at the Carranza yesterdayMIGUEL MORENATTIDIARIO AS

Good times are back in Cádiz

Nevertheless expectation couldn’t be higher down in Cádiz, where fans are in a state of euphoria for how their own team is doing - flying high nine points clear at the top of the Second Division. This season, gate receipts at the Carranza (a beautiful stadium I must say) are up 22% on last season and a sell-out crowd is expected tonight. So all the right ingredients are in place for a magical night with an enthusiastic crowd in a corner of Spain which has escaped the bad weather we’ve been having of late in other parts of the country.

Sergio Ramos and Santo Cazorla, high fives in Cádiz
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Sergio Ramos and Santo Cazorla, high fives in CádizMIGUEL MORENATTIDIARIO AS

Ramos and El Guaje Villa

The high number of spectators who watched yesterday’s training session gave us some idea of the kind of fever which is gathering pace in the hours running up to the game. The doors were opened to the public in the end – the right move; it would have been a bit mean to have held the session behind closed doors. As per usual, there were no clues as to what the starting line-up might be although it’s likely to be a weaker side than the one which will take on Romania on Monday. Prior to kick-off there will be a small tribute to Sergio Ramos for his impressive appearances record, now that he has overtaken Casillas; and the game will also serve to remind us of David Villa, another member of the golden generation who is hanging up his boots. Great times, now well in the past – it will take a great deal of effort to experience something similar in the future.