Spain looks to end losing run vs. Colombia
Spain plays Colombia on Wednesday looking to end a three-game winless run in friendlies since becoming world champion last year.
Spain tops its European Championship qualifying group with three victories but it has lost two successive friendlies, to Argentina and Portugal, by a combined 8-1 score.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque doesn't expect his team's confidence to be a problem, saying a busy calendar was partly to blame for November's 4-0 loss in Portugal. It was the country's worst defeat since a 6-2 loss to Scotland in 1963.
"The last two friendlies we wanted to win," midfielder Sergio Busquets said on Tuesday. "We have a lot of respect for all opponents, there aren't any easy games and we want to show we were world champions for a reason, especially in front of our country's fans."
Spain has played at home only once in seven games since the World Cup, with a 1-1 draw in Mexico its other friendly match.
Spain is without defender Carles Puyol and midfielder Cesc Fabregas for the match at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. It will count on a regular squad of World Cup champions that include Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa.
But most of the players have been busy filming sponsors' commercials and receiving accolades over the past days with the team being honored by Madrid's provincial government on Tuesday.
"The players don't know details about Colombia but we've told them some general ideas about them," Del Bosque said. "We have focused more on the psychological aspect and to make sure they're conscious that playing for the national team is never about going through the motions."
Colombia will be without striker Radamel Falcao for the game, which is only the second ever meeting between the countries. The first was a 1-1 draw in Bogota in 1981.
"The idea with this game is to keep improving for the Copa America," Colombia defender Luis Perea said. "They're going to want to come out and kill off the game quickly so we'll all have to try to be at our best. We haven't got much to lose and only a lot to gain. We need to call on the way we've always played - a lot of passing and that should open up the field and help us find the opponent's goal."
Del Bosque expects Colombia to bring a similar style to Chile and Paraguay, opponents the European champions beat on their way to their World Cup triumph in South Africa.
Spain has now lost two of its last four games - its previous two defeats came over a 49-game period stretching over three years.
Del Bosque sees the match as the perfect warmup for its next Euro 2012 qualifier, against the Czech Republic on March 25. Spain holds a three-point lead over the Czechs in Group I.
"In a month and a half we've got a very important commitment," Del Bosque said. "We should take advantage of this concentration."
Gate receipts from Wednesday's match will go to the Association of Spanish Football players.