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World Cup Qualifying Preview: Belarus - Spain



Marty'vich, Palyakow, Filipenko, Verkho'sov
Drahun, Kislyak
Bardachow, Bressan, A Hleb


Arbeloa, Busquets, Ramos, Alba
Xavi, Alonso, Fabregas
Silva, Torres, Iniesta

Belarus midfielders Anton Putsila and Timofei Kalachev will miss Friday's World Cup qualifier against Spain at the Dynama Stadium in Minsk. The injured duo join forward Leonid Kovel on the sidelines, leaving BATE Borisov's Vitali Rodionov as the only recognized striker in the squad.

Coach Georgy Kondratiev could name up to six players from the BATE side that beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week in his starting lineup, with Aliaksandr Hleb expected to make his first international appearance since February 2011.

Sergio Busquets looks set to start as a makeshift center back for Spain, which is without injured Barcelona pair Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique. Raul Albiol and Javi Martinez could also provide defensive cover, but coach Vicente del Bosque's training formation on Wednesday had Busquets operating in central defense alongside Sergio Ramos.

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres should start ahead of Roberto Soldado in attack, while playmaker Santi Cazorla may feature following recent impressive performances for Arsenal.


  • Belarus, ranked 87th in the world, lies bottom of Group I, having lost its first two qualifiers away to Georgia and France, respectively.

  • The Eastern European outfit is on a four-match winless run at home (D2, L2).

  • Aliaksandr Hleb (pictured right) spent one season in the Spanish Primera Division, making 19 league appearances for Barcelona in 2008-09.

  • Spain has won its last 23 World Cup and European Championship qualifiers - a run that stretches back to September 2007.

  • La Roja are on a 46-match unbeaten run in World Cup qualification matches. Their last defeat in a World Cup qualifier came away to Denmark in March 1993.

  • Sergio Ramos needs five more caps to become only the seventh Spaniard to make 100 international appearances.
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