International Friendlies: Spain set to play Albania

Spain welcome Albania to the RCDE Stadium on Saturday evening in a friendly match, as Luis Enrique’s side continue their preparations for this winter’s World Cup. La Roja qualified top of their group after a solid campaign which only saw them lose once in Sweden.

Albania, meanwhile, narrowly missed out on a place in the playoffs, finishing third in their group, and are still to qualify for a World Cup.

Spain will be hoping to pick up a comfortable home win when they take on Albania.

Luis Enrique’s side suffered a 2-1 defeat to France in the UEFA Nations League final in October, but they were victorious in their final four World Cup qualification matches, failing to concede in the process, so the home side will enter this contest off the back of a positive run of results.

Spain will take on Albania and Iceland in their two March friendlies before returning to competitive action against Portugal in the UEFA Nations League at the start of June.

Enrique’s team will already be thinking about the World Cup, though, and they will be bidding to make a strong impression in the competition for the first time since winning it in 2010, having been eliminated in the group stage in 2014 and round of 16 in 2018.

Spain reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020, meanwhile, and they are certainly capable of making a deep impression at this year’s World Cup, as another hugely talented group of youngsters are emerging.

Albania, though, will not compete at the 2022 World Cup, having finished third in Group I, picking up 18 points from their ten matches, two points behind second-placed Poland.

The Red and Blacks have never qualified for the finals of a World Cup, but they did compete at Euro 2016, losing two of their three matches to drop out of the tournament in the group stage.

Team News:

Spain: Spain boss Enrique has left David de Gea out of his squad despite the goalkeeper’s impressive form for Manchester United this season, although Unai Simon is now firmly the national team’s number one.

Brentford’s David Raya will be hoping to make his debut for La Roja over their next two matches, while the likes of Carlos Soler, Hugo Guillamon, Gavi, Raul de Tomas and Yeremi Pino should all be involved.

Albania: Albania have named Torino goalkeeper Etrit Berisha, Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, Lazio full-back Elseid Hysaj, Roma centre-back Marash Kumbulla, Spezia striker Rey Manaj and Southampton striker Armando Broja.

Spain vs Albania Predicted XI

Spain Predicted XI (4-3-3): Robert Sanchez, Cesar Azpilicueta, Eric Garcia, Aymeric Laporte, Jordi Alba, Gavi, Pedri, Carlos Soler, Yeremi Pino, Alvaro Morata, Ferran Torres

Albania Predicted XI (3-5-2): Thomas Strakosha, Marash Kumbulla, Berat Djimsiti, Erion Hoxhallari, Odise Roshi, Ylber Ramadani, Amir Abrashi, Kristjan Asllani, Elseid Hysaj, Armando Broja, Sokol Cikalleshi