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International Friendly Preview: South Africa - Spain

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International Friendly Preview: South Africa - Spain
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International Friendly Preview: South Africa - Spain
Spain will return to the scene of its 2010 World Cup triumph when it faces South Africa on Tuesday.

Vicente del Bosque's men, who became world champions with a 1-0 extra-time victory over the Netherlands at Soccer City in Johannesburg, will be looking to end 2013 on a high after the year produced its first loss in a competitive match since that tournament.

It was Brazil, host of the 2014 competition, that inflicted the defeat in the final of the Confederations Cup, but Spain has since won five of the last six matches, qualifying for next year's tournament as the winner of Europe's Group I.

While the return to the stage of the national team's greatest success will invoke happy memories in the Spain squad, the reigning world and European champions will hope to produce a better performance than they did in their hard-fought 2-1 victory over Equatorial Guinea on Saturday.

A much-changed Spain was far from its fluent best in Malabo but goals from Santi Cazorla and Juanfran proved enough for the visitors. On Tuesday they are likely to be without Xabi Alonso, who picked up an injury in that game.

Spain has never lost to South Africa in the three previous meetings between the two sides, although it needed extra time to take a 3-2 victory in the third-place game at the 2009 Confederations Cup.

South Africa goes into the game in having lost one and drawn one of its last five outings, and the hosts will be keen to end a disappointing year on a high. Gordon Igesund's men failed to qualify for the World Cup as they were eliminated in the second round of African qualification after finishing second in their group behind Ethiopia.

South Africa's next competitive priority will be to reach the finals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, but of immediate concern is the task presented to them by the No. 1-ranked nation.

Kaizer Chiefs striker Bernard Parker should provide South Africa's main attacking threat after scoring five goals in the qualification campaign. But Parker and South Africa are likely to have a more difficult task as they try to break down a Spain defense that conceded only three goals en route to the finals.

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