Spanish seek early qualification
© AFP

Spain striker David Villa is confident that victories in their upcoming games against the Czech Republic and Lithuania will practically guarantee the reigning champions a place in UEFA EURO 2012.

Having won the previous competition as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, Spain are the team to beat in international football with talent in abundance. First under coach Luis Aragones and now Vicente Del Bosque, Spain have adopted the quick passing movement which has brought so much success to Barcelona and with so many of the Catalan club's players being home grown they have stepped up effortlessly into the national team.

Spain have an exemplary record so far in qualifying with three wins out of three and ten goals scored. They now play the Czech Republic, second in the group with three points less, in Granada on Friday, and then travel to Lithuania next week.

Villa says back-to-back wins should see them book their finals berth. "We have two very important games but if we can win them then we will have gone a long way towards qualifying," said Villa. "The sooner that we qualify and achieve our aim the better as it means that we don't have to worry unnecessarily. Still they are going to be two very difficult games where we need to get victories."

Spanish injury absentees
Del Bosque will be without the injured Carles Puyol, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro Rodriguez, so it is likely that Alvaro Arbeloa will step into the defence at right back, with Sergio Ramos moving into the middle, while Fernando Torres will come back into the attack. Javi Martinez, Juan Mata and Andoni Iraola have also been brought into the squad. Czech Republic coach Michal Bilek has included a number of young players from the Under-21 side in his squad but will have plenty of experience from Milan Baros, Tomas Rosicky and keeper Petr Cech.

"We need to be wary of the Czech Republic because they have been a strong side in Europe for many years and they have quality players who are capable of winning games," said Del Bosque. "We are all very grateful for the praise that we have received since winning the World Cup which has been incredible in Spain. It is also makes it an obligation for us to keep winning and picking up trophies. All the players in the squad need to enjoy the opportunity and make the most of their chance. If we don't have the right mentality then we are going to struggle."

Del Bosque admitted that he was concerned that with this game coming towards the end of the season, players may be tired and easily distracted by the possibility of winning club competitions. "It is a problem but no one is guaranteed a place in this side even if they won the World Cup and there are a lot of players who are knocking on the door like Jose Antonio Reyes, but at the moment there is no reason to change the list that we have," he said.

Opposite number Bilek is hoping to catch Spain off-guard. "Spain are the favourites but no team is perfect and they make errors. Our main aim will be to stop (Andres) Iniesta and Xavi (Hernandez) in midfield making their passes, that will be the key," he said.