Vicente del Bosque has told Spain to have their wits about them as they play the Czech Republic, their nearest rivals in Group I: "If anyone is switched off it could complicate things."
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World and European champions Spain have been told to be on their guard when they face the Czech Republic on Friday, with Michal Bílek's men just three points off the UEFA EURO 2012 Group I leaders.
Vicente del Bosque's team tower over most of their opponents in the section, yet the coach recognises that the Czechs are not a side to be trifled with. "They are our biggest threat," he said. "They have great physical and technical qualities. They are very strong and have been one of the best teams in Europe in recent years."
With automatic picks Carles Puyol, Cesc Fàbregas and Pedro Rodríguez injured, Athletic Club's Andoni Iraola and Javi Martínez may get a chance along with Valencia CF's Juan Mata, although it is personality rather than personnel that former Real Madrid CF boss Del Bosque sees as the main danger.
"The worry for us is that most of our players are involved in domestic and European campaigns with their clubs and will continue to be so until the end of the season," explained the 60-year-old. "We need to go into Friday's game with the right mentality because if any one of us is switched off it could really complicate things."
The Czechs, for their part, will hope Galatasaray AŞ forward Milan Baroš's return to the fold can provide a cutting edge in Granada; they have scored just three goals in as many qualifiers, two of them against Liechtenstein. "His club are not in the best shape but I am sure he will be very useful," said Bílek.
Visiting goalkeeper Petr Čech will take on his new Chelsea FC team-mate Fernando Torres at the Los Cármenes venue, with Čech a little concerned to be up against the striker again. "He beat me in every game we played in as opponents," said the 79-cap custodian. "I hope it will be different on Friday."
If Čech's wish is to come true, Bílek accepts his squad must put in a better display than in their recent 4-2 friendly loss in Croatia. "Spain are favourites but they also make mistakes," the coach observed. "We must stop midfielders [Andrés] Iniesta and Xavi [Hernández] and their upfield passes; that is crucial."