Belfast Telegraph

Alonso ready for Spain chance

Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso insists he can build a potent midfield partnership with fellow playmaker Xavi as he prepares for Saturday's World Cup qualifier at home to Belgium.

Injuries to Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta have left Alonso as the obvious choice alongside Barcelona star Xavi and defensive enforcer Marcos Senna for the clash at Deportivo La Coruna's Riazor stadium.

Questions have been raised about the pair's compatibility due to their similar playing styles but the Basque midfielder, now back in La Liga with Real Madrid, is confident the duo can prosper.

Alonso - who suffered a knock in training today but is expected to be fit for Vicente Del Bosque's team - told the media this morning: "Today I have been working with Xavi and I think it went well.

"And when I play with Senna it is no problem either."

Spain are currently six points clear of Bosnia-Herzegovina at the top of Group Five with four matches remaining in their qualification campaign and appear set to join Holland - the only European side to secure their place in next year's finals so far - in South Africa.

The Belgium match promises to be a sentimental return to Galicia for full-back Joan Capdevila, who enjoyed a successful spell at Depor before joining current side Villarreal in 2007.

But first and foremost Capdevila is focused on securing three vital points.

"Spain are leading the table and we depend only on ourselves, so we can control our own future by winning both of our remaining games," he said.

"It will be special for me to return to the Riazor, where I had seven years and was treated so well."

While Capdevila and Alonso are experienced members of the national team the likes of Gerard Pique, Juan Mata and Sergi Busquets have all joined them in the squad despite their inexperience.

Barca midfielder Busquets, 21, admits his rapid rise has taken even him by surprise.

He told RFEF Radio: "If I had thought last year that I would be at this point today, I never would have believed it.

"I can only build on it and hopefully it will be the beginning of a long career for both my club and the national team.

"This is a team that can be around for a long time. Players coming up through the ranks can see that they can make the breakthrough at any time.

"We have to be very grateful to Vicente Del Bosque - it is admirable that a coach is so dedicated to youngsters."

Belfast Telegraph

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