Spain looking to avoid a giant-killing as they make the trip to face Panama

Spain are used to winning football matches, but can minnows Panama cause an upset tonight when the two meet in Central America?
Spain are used to winning football matches, but can minnows Panama cause an upset tonight when the two meet in Central America?

Spain travel to play Panama tonight having won 13 out of their 15 fixtures so far this year, many of which contributed to their victory at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

Despite their unstoppable form, Spain’s attacking midfielder Juan Mata insists his country will not take Panama lightly tonight, even though they are ranked 46 places higher than them in the world rankings.

“This team is characterised by having humility and not getting carried away with all the praise,” said Mata.

“We will continue working with humility and even if the wins keep coming we must always keep our feet on the ground.”

Spain have never faced Panana, but Chelsea player Mata explains how he and his compatriots will not be complacent.

“We won’t allow ourselves to be surprised, it’s a very important game for them,” said the 24-year-old.

“To play against the Spanish national team is now very important, it’s a game that virtually everyone will see and we have to try to be at the same level of intensity and concentration as them.

“We are going into the game wanting to give a good impression of ourselves, and winning.”

Mata is likely be put back into the starting line-up because many of his fellow Spanish midfielders miss the trip to Central America, including Barcelona’s Xavi, Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso and Manchester City’s David Silva.

Fernando Torres, Mata’s Chelsea team-mate, will be rested along with Barcelona’s Gerard Pique, and this paves the way for uncapped pair Markel Susaeta, the Athletic Bilbao midfielder, and Barcelona defender Martin Montoya to potentially get off and running in their international careers after they were both included in the squad that traveled to Panama.

Panama manager Julio Cesar Dely Valdes, the former Malaga, Real Oviedo and Paris St Germain striker, is more than aware of the giant task his team face when they host Spain.

“Spain always try to run the game, to have the ball. I see almost no weakness in their side,” he said.

“For me they are the best. I can’t remember having seen another national team play the way Spain do. As individuals, as a team, everything.”

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