An uncharacteristic mood of secrecy surrounded the Spain camp today as Iñaki Sáez put the finishing touches to preparations for his side's second Group A game against Greece at the Estádio do Bessa Século XXI tomorrow.
Veil of secrecy
Sáez revealed that changes were likely to be made to the team that beat Russia 1-0, but the normally forthcoming coach was otherwise reticent. "I've talked to my assistants and they advised me not to reveal the lineup," Sáez said. "Greece are used to adapting to their opponents' way of playing. If we were playing Brazil, I would have disclosed the lineup because Brazil would not make changes in light of my selection."
'Lots of options'
It is the first time since he took charge that Sáez has not announced his side the day before a match. "We are going to follow the Russian system. Their coach only announced his lineup 30 minutes before kick-off," he said. "The Greeks have been analysing this game for a long time. We have a lot of options up front and that's why I won't disclose the first eleven."
Sáez, mindful of the 1-0 home defeat by Greece in qualifying that forced Spain to contest a play-off against Norway, has complete respect for Otto Rehhagel's team, who beat Portugal 2-1 on Saturday. "This is the most disciplined Greece side I have seen," he said. "They are very hard to beat. They will defend and look to win the game on the break - that's why it is important for us to score as early as possible."
The only question mark surrounding the Spain squad has been the form and fitness of captain Raúl González, who was substituted late on against Russia. But the coach did his best to dispel the doubters. "He is fully fit," he said. "There is no reason for controversy."
'No room for change'
Despite the veil of secrecy, Sáez did admit that he would stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation that prevailed against Russia. "There's no room for changing the system," said the 61-year-old. "I did it once, against Armenia in León, and it didn't work. You are silly if you repeat unsatisfactory experiences."
One experiment that did work for Sáez against Russia was the double substitution of Fernando Morientes and Rubén Baraja for Juan Carlos Valerón and Xabi Alonso. The latter pair now have a chance of appearing when their coach finally reveals his selection as kick-off draws near in Porto.
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