Spain forward Pedro Rodriguez does not expect France to be suffering any kind of hangover from their surprise friendly defeat to Japan when the two European superpowers clash in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying tomorrow night.
That was hardly the best preparation for France's daunting trip to Madrid to face reigning world and European champions Spain in a potentially vital qualifier, but Pedro doubts the defeat will have any influence on tomorrow's encounter at the Vicente Calderon stadium.
The Barcelona winger, who scored a hat-trick in the win over Belarus, said: "The defeat against Japan won't have affected them, it was a friendly. We know that it will be a very difficult game because they are a great team with big players like (Franck) Ribery and (Karim) Benzema."
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque may have to re-jig his defence again for the visit of France with question marks over the fitness of Sergio Ramos, who missed training yesterday. Ramos played at centre-back on Friday night alongside Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets as Del Bosque is without first-choice pairing Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique.
If Ramos does not make it, then Raul Albiol, who replaced his Real Madrid team-mate in the second half against Belarus, will be hoping to get another chance. "Anyone could play on Tuesday, I have to be ready. The important thing is to get three points because it would be a very important step towards World Cup qualification," said Albiol, who does not believe France's loss to Japan will be a factor either.
"The Japanese are very fast. It was a friendly game and I don't think France will be coming here too affected, they had the match against us in their heads and we have to prepare ourselves to face the best France."
Spain have won their last three matches against the French since suffering a 3-1 defeat to their neighbours in the last 16 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The most recent meeting between the two saw Spain claim a 2-0 victory in the quarter-finals of this summer's European Championship, and Les Bleus defender Mathieu Debuchy hopes his side will put on a better showing tomorrow than they did on that occasion. The Lille full-back said in L'Equipe: "We were perhaps a little too concerned about them and stayed back a little too much. This time we will try to cause them a lot more problems."
Tomorrow's other Group I clash sees Belarus host Georgia in Minsk. Rock-bottom Belarus have lost all three of their matches so far, conceding eight goals, while Georgia have four points from three games.