Spain target friendly repeat
© Foto-net

Confidence is riding high in the Spain camp as they go into their quarter-final contest with the Czech Republic knowing that history would seem to be on their side in Edmonton.

Firstly, their 4-2 comeback victory against Brazil in the Round of 16 in Burnaby represented the highest number of goals any Spanish national team has ever scored against the Brazilians, with the senior internationals only having managed to get three twice before - a 3-1 win in the 1934 FIFA World Cup™ and a 3-0 success in a 1990 friendly.

However, what would appear far more significant is the fact that the Spain U-20 team met the Czechs in March this year, when they ran out 3-1 winners in Alcazar de San Juan in a friendly international specifically designed to give the two teams a warm-up fixture ahead of the FIFA U-20 World Cup. However, at first glance, the scoreline may be a little deceptive as a gauge for how things might shape up when they lock horns again, this time at the Commonwealth Stadium.

The teams were level at 1-1 until the 70th minute when Czech defender Ondrej Mazuch was sent off, after which Spain got the decisive goals through Cesar and Diego Capel. Mata had earlier put the home side ahead until Tomas Fenin levelled from the spot. Spain goalkeeper and captain Antonio Adan has taken a lot of encouragement from the encounter and he said: "We played against the Czech Republic recently in a friendly which we won and we already saw them last year at the European Championship. I think that we are a better team."

Midfielder Marcos Garcia sounded a touch more cautious when he told "We think the Czech Republic will be a difficult game. We know them pretty well after playing them in Europe and I'm sure it will be complicated when we meet again. We are not tired because once you get to the quarter-finals it doesn't really matter. We had a tough match against Brazil but we played well and now we are ready for the next round."

European champions
The sides avoided each other last summer in Poland at the UEFA U-19 Championship which served as qualifiers for Canada 2007, with the Czechs falling to Scotland 1-0 before Spain beat the Scots 2-1 in the final, but head coach Gines Melendez understandably refuses to make any predictions about finishing as champions again this summer... not yet at least. "We're just taking this step-by-step and the further we go, the more content we can be. Just being in Canada makes me happy," he said. "Wherever we have gone we have been received really well. It was fantastic in Burnaby, along with everywhere else, and we are grateful to the people of this country."

Melendez said the victory against Brazil has given his team great heart and self-belief. "More than anything it was important because the result against Brazil has made them grow as footballers and it has helped them for their careers," he told "We were down 2-0 but we were able to hit back against a team with a lot of skill. It took courage for our boys to do that."

Temperatures hit 37 degrees pitchside for the last match played in Edmonton during Canada 2007 and although a repeat of that would appear to suit the Spaniards, Melendez says he does not want another sizzler in the city on Saturday. "At this stage of the competition it's better when it's a little colder but if it's very hot here again, we just have to live with the heat. We are very happy right now and hopefully we will be even happier after tomorrow."