Holders Spain are looking to end their qualifying campaign with a perfect record against the two sides still looking to join them in Poland and Ukraine next summer – the Czech Republic and Scotland – but will have to win in Prague and Alicante without the injured Cesc Fàbregas.
The Czechs will be aiming to keep Scotland, who are two points behind them, at arm's length after hosting the group leaders and travelling to Lithuania on 11 October. Should Craig Levein's side win in Liechtenstein on 7 October and Spain prevail against the Czech Republic, Scotland's destiny will rest in their own hands – albeit with a final day assignment at the world and European champions to come.
7 October: Czech Republic v Spain
8 October: Liechtenstein v Scotland
Spain (18 points) Q
Vicente del Bosque's initial 23-man squad for the qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Scotland has been reduced by the withdrawals of Fàbregas and Álvaro Negredo with hamstring injuries. The world and European champions have recovered FC Barcelona central defenders Gerard Piqué and Carles Puyol while there is a first call-up to the senior set-up for Valencia CF full-back Jordi Alba. "The squad is a stable one and is also relatively young," Del Bosque explained.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF), Pepe Reina (Liverpool FC), Víctor Valdés (FC Barcelona).
Defenders: Jordi Alba (Valencia CF), Raúl Albiol (Real Madrid CF), Álvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid CF), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona), Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid CF).
Midfielders: Thiago Alcántara (FC Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid CF), Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Santiago Cazorla (Málaga CF), Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona), Javi Martínez (Athletic Club).
Forwards: Fernando Llorente (Athletic Club), Juan Mata (Chelsea FC), Álvaro Negredo (Sevilla FC)*, Pedro Rodríguez (FC Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City FC), Fernando Torres (Chelsea FC), David Villa (FC Barcelona).
Czech Republic (10 pts)
The Czechs are at full strength following the return of goalkeeper Petr Čech from a knee injury. Michal Bílek's squad is very similar to the selection that earned a crucial 2-2 draw in Scotland on 3 September. The only notable change is that AC Sparta Praha captain Marek Matějovský has made the cut, with the playmaker having earned his last cap in a friendly tournament in the United Arab Emirates in November 2009.
Goalkeepers: Petr Čech (Chelsea FC), Jaroslav Drobný (Hamburger SV), Jan Laštůvka (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk).
Defenders: Zdeněk Pospěch (1. FSV Mainz 05), Jan Rajnoch (MKE Ankaragücü), Tomáš Sivok (Beşiktaş JK), Theodor Gebreselassie (FC Slovan Liberec), Roman Hubník (Hertha BSC Berlin), Daniel Pudil (KRC Genk), Petr Jiráček (FC Viktoria Plzeň), Michal Kadlec (Bayer 04 Leverkusen).
Midfielders: Tomáš Rosický (Arsenal FC), Tomáš Hübschman (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Daniel Kolář (FC Viktoria Plzeň), Jaroslav Plašil (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Kamil Vacek (AC Chievo Verona), Jan Rezek (Anorthosis Famagusta FC), Václav Pilař (FC Viktoria Plzeň), Milan Petržela (FC Viktoria Plzeň), Marek Matějovský (AC Sparta Praha).
Forwards: Milan Baroš (Galatasaray AŞ), David Lafata (FK Jablonec), Tomáš Pekhart (1. FC Nürnberg).
Scotland (8 pts)
Craig Levein has handed Dundee United FC midfielder Danny Swanson his first call-up as they chase a play-off place in Liechtenstein and Spain. Levein knows Swanson from his time as manager of the Tayside club and has also recalled Middlesbrough FC centre-back Stephen McManus, with Liverpool FC defender Danny Wilson dropping out of the 25-man squad.
"Danny is a player I've tried to get in before but injuries have always prevented that," said Levein. "I don't expect him to start in either game but he fits the profile in that he's a creative player like Barry Bannan. All we can do is take advantage of any slip-up by the Czech Republic, so Liechtenstein is a must-win game." Celtic FC midfielder Scott Brown and Robert Snodgrass, who is replaced by Wigan Athletic FC midfielder James McArthur, miss out with ankle problems.
Goalkeepers: Allan McGregor (Rangers FC), Matt Gilks (Blackpool FC)*, David Marshall (Cardiff City FC), Cameron Bell (Kilmarnock FC)**.
Defenders: Phil Bardsley (Sunderland AFC), Christophe Berra (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Gary Caldwell (Wigan Athletic FC), Stephen Crainey (Blackpool FC)*, Grant Hanley (Blackburn Rovers FC), Alan Hutton (Aston Villa FC), Stephen McManus (Middlesbrough FC), Steven Whittaker (Rangers FC), Lee Wallace (Rangers FC)**.
Midfielders: Charlie Adam (Liverpool FC), Barry Bannan (Aston Villa FC), Don Cowie (Cardiff City FC), Graham Dorrans (West Bromwich Albion FC), Darren Fletcher (Manchester United FC), James Forrest (Celtic FC), James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion FC), Barry Robson (Middlesbrough FC), Robert Snodgrass (Leeds United AFC)*, Danny Swanson (Dundee United FC), James McArthur (Wigan Athletic FC)**.
Forwards: David Goodwillie (Blackburn Rovers FC), Kenny Miller (Cardiff City FC), Craig Mackail-Smith (Brighton and Hove Albion FC), Steven Naismith (Rangers FC).
Lithuania (5 pts)
Raimondas Žutautas has called upon FC Shakhter Karagandy midfielder Gediminas Vičius, with Deividas Šemberas and Edgaras Česnauskis suspended. S.S. Lazio defender Marius Stankevičius returns after an injury layoff, while left-back Vytautas Andriuškevičius is promoted from the Under-21 side. There are also changes in attack, as veteran Robertas Poškus is recalled, while A Lyga leading scorer Arsenij Buinickij also gets a chance.
"Since Šemberas can’t play, we were looking for a possible alternative in holding midfield so I talked with former Lithuania coach Algimantas Liubinskas," explained Žutautas. Since he praised Vičius' performances in Kazakhstan, we would like to see the player in our training camp."
Goalkeepers: Žydrūnas Karčemarskas (Gaziantepspor), Ernestas Šetkus (Olympiakos Nicosia FC), Marius Rapalis (VMFD Žalgiris).
Defenders: Marius Stankevičius (S.S. Lazio), Arūnas Klimavičius (FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan), Ramūnas Radavičius (FK Ekranas), Andrius Skerla (Jagiellonia Białystok), Deividas Česnauskis (Baki FK), Marius Žaliūkas (Heart of Midlothian FC), Vytautas Andriuškevičius (KS Lechia Gdańsk).
Midfielders: Kęstutis Ivaškevičius (Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC), Mindaugas Panka (RTS Widzew Łódź), Saulius Mikoliūnas (FC Arsenal Kiyv), Linas Pilibaitis (Győri ETO FC), Marius Papšys (1. FK Příbram), Arvydas Novikovas (Heart of Midlothian FC), Gediminas Vičius (FC Shakhter Karagandy).
Forwards: Darvydas Šernas (Zagłębie Lubin), Tomas Danilevičius (AS Livorno Calcio), Robertas Poškus (Simurq PFK), Arsenij Buinickij (FK Dainava).
Liechtenstein (4 pts)
Hans-Peter Zaugg has recalled Michele Polverino and Yves Oehri after they missed last month's fixtures against Lithuania and Spain. Also included, as well as being part of the Liechtenstein Under-21 squad, are youngsters Rony Hanselmann, Nicolas Hasler, Sandro Wieser and David Hasler.
Goalkeepers: Peter Jehle (FC Vaduz), Cengiz Biçer (MersinIdman Yurdu), Benjamin Büchel (USV Eschen/Mauren).
Defenders: Daniel Kaufmann (USV Eschen/Mauren), Yves Oehri (FC Vaduz), Martin Rechsteiner (FC Vaduz), Marco Ritzberger (FC Vaduz), Martin Stocklasa (FC St Gallen), Michael Stocklasa (USV Eschen/Mauren).
Midfielders: Martin Büchel (FC Zürich), Rony Hanselmann (FC Balzers), Nicolas Hasler (FC Vaduz), Wolfgang Kieber (FC Balzers), Michele Polverino (Steel Azin FC), Sandro Wieser (FC Basel 1893).
Forwards: Thomas Beck (FC Balzers), Mario Frick (FC Balzers), David Hasler (FC Vaduz).
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