Wed, 31 May 2023

MADRID, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Spain entertain Norway in Malaga on Saturday in their first game since the disappointment of losing to Morocco in the last-16 of the World Cup, and in their first match since Luis de la Fuente replaced Luis Enrique as national team coach.

The De la Fuente era promises to bring a different look to the Spain side, given that veterans Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, both confirmed their international retirement in the wake, with the former Under-21 coach looking to freshen up the squad, with the inclusion of players such as David Lopez from Osasuna and Real Sociedad midfielder, Martin Zubimendi.

He will also use a more flexible system to the rigid 4-3-3 which Luis Enrique relied on, with Rodri and either Zubimendi or Mikel Merino playing in holding roles, while Gavi and Davi Ceballos (on the same side after their off the ball incident in last weekend's Classico) are also likely to start.

The loss of Gerard Moreno with a calf injury is a blow to De la Fuente's plans, as the Villarreal striker was likely to lead the attack. That role will now probably go to Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata, with Borja Iglesias waiting for his chance on the bench.

Mikel Oyarzabal was a fixture for De la Fuente in the Tokyo Olympic Games and the forward, who missed out on Qatar due to injury, is also likely to start, while the adaptability of 35-year-old Iago Aspas could see him play in a role linking midfield and attack.

With Athletic Bilbao keeper, Unai Simon out injured, the coach has to decide who will start in the La Rosaleda Stadium, and David Raya, Robert Sanchez and Kepa (back in the squad after a two-year absence) all have options.

Meanwhile in defense, Jose Luis Gaya (who was dropped at the last moment before the World Cup with an ankle injury) should start, with Aymeric Laporte, Inigo Martinez, Garcia and Nacho Fernandez contesting two places in central defense, although Nacho could also play at right back if needed.

Norway are without prolific scorer Erling Haaland, which should make Spain's task easier, but after a World Cup in which Spain controlled the ball, but failed to create chances in big games, what the fans want to see is attacking football and goals.

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