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Spain the stage for Group 5 rivals

Published: Friday 30 May 2014, 9.30CET
Six-time winners Spain are bracing themselves for "the moment of truth" as elite round Group 5 opposition Germany, Denmark and Lithuania prepare to travel to Vigo.
Spain the stage for Group 5 rivals
Spain coach Luis de la Fuente ©Sportsfile
Published: Friday 30 May 2014, 9.30CET

Spain the stage for Group 5 rivals

Six-time winners Spain are bracing themselves for "the moment of truth" as elite round Group 5 opposition Germany, Denmark and Lithuania prepare to travel to Vigo.

Spain
The six-time winners enjoyed a three-day get-together at Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) headquarters in Madrid earlier this month. Despite referring to his squad as "already being an established group," coach Luis de la Fuente believes such gatherings have enabled players and technical staff to "get to know one another even better" ahead of the mini-tournament in Vigo. Spain responded to a 2-1 friendly loss away to the Netherlands in March – Santi Mina scoring for last year's semi-finalists – with a 4-0 home victory against Serbia the following month, Juan Muñoz netting twice and Álvaro Bustos once after an early own goal. "The moment of truth is getting closer and we are keen to start," said FC Barcelona B midfielder Sergi Samper.

Qualifying round: did not enter

Key players: Rubén Blanco (goalkeeper, RC Celta de Vigo), Marcos Llorente (midfielder, Real Madrid CF), Adama Traoré (midfielder, FC Barcelona), Munir El Haddadi (forward, FC Barcelona)

Germany
Having taken charge last summer, Marcus Sorg began his reign with a surprising 3-2 defeat in Hungary before entertaining friendlies ensued against the Netherlands (6-1), France (4-3, 2-2), Italy (1-1) and Belgium (5-2). Germany have failed to qualify since lifting the trophy in 2008, and the coach said: "We still have some room for improvement. We try to have a well-organised and disciplined team to then use our great qualities in attack." FC Schalke 04 midfielder Max Meyer has not been called up despite being dropped from Joachim Löw's preliminary FIFA World Cup squad.

Qualifying round: Belarus 2-1, Latvia 5-0, Scotland 1-1 (Group 5 winners)

Key players: Serge Gnabry (midfielder, Arsenal FC), Hany Mukthar (midfielder, Hertha BSC Berlin), Julian Brandt (midfielder, Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Davie Selke (forward, SV Werder Bremen)

Denmark
Having edged into the elite round despite a 2-0 loss to Italy in their final qualifying fixture – a three-goal triumph would have sent Italy through at Denmark's expense – coach Bent Christensen has prepared his side with wins against Liechtenstein (2-0) and Israel (3-1). "Of course, I'm particularly happy that we have qualified," the former Danish international said. "The team have managed to add further to the schooling these players have already got in the national team environment. Now we can look forward to some new exciting experiences, not least getting the chance to test our way of playing in some important matches."

Qualifying round: Liechtenstein 2-0, Israel 3-1, Italy 0-2 (Group 10 runners-up)

Key players: Jeppe Højbjerg (goalkeeper, Esbjerg fB), Jacob Dehn Andersen (defender, Randers FC), Andrew Hjulsager (midfielder, Brøndby IF), Emiliano Marcondes (midfielder, FC Nordsjælland), Yones Felfel (midfielder, FC København)

Lithuania
Last season's final tournament hosts eliminated Poland to reach the elite round for the first time, although coach Antanas Vingilys has lost winger Deimantas Petravičius to a broken foot while playmaker Vykintas Slivka is also an injury doubt. Vingilys can still count on six players from the 2013 squad, however, and said: "The draw has not been fortunate, but for some players it is a chance to test themselves against the continent's future stars. We have nothing to lose; our philosophy will be to take it game by game and see where that takes us."

Qualifying round: Poland 1-1, Romania 0-1, Armenia 1-0 (Group 2 runners-up)

Key players: Simonas Stankevičius (forward, Leicester City FC), Vykintas Slivka (midfielder, Juventus), Gabrielius Judickas (midfielder, Novara Calcio), Julius Aleksandravičius (defender, Chemnitzer FC)

Last updated: 04/06/14 10.10CET

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