Two tough tests, warns Lopetegui

Julen Lopetegui believes Spain’s friendlies against Costa Rica and Russia “will come in handy” for the World Cup next summer.

Spain kick-off the first of two warm-up windows on Saturday, when they welcome Costa Rica to Malaga’s home of La Rosaleda, and Lopetegui is expecting a tough test against the quarter-finalists of Brazil 2014.

“Our focus is on the only thing that interests us, the World Cup,” the Coach said at a Press conference.

“We have only two international breaks to fine-tune things for Russia, and we’ll be facing two teams that will demand a lot from us.

“They’ll force us to have two great performances. We’d like to have more breaks, but it is what it is.

“We’ll try to take advantage of the time we have and become more of a team. Fans? We’re delighted with their response and the support we’re getting.

“Italy? I think they’ll qualify, but the playoffs are tough. I think they’ll go through, but…

“Costa Rica? They’re a very good team and are one of the better sides in world football. They came a penalty shootout away from the semi-finals in Brazil after they won a group that contained England, Italy and Uruguay.

“They’ve kept that unit and style of play, and Russia play in a similar way, so these games can come in handy.

“Reina? He had a problem with his back but trained with the team [on Thursday] and is ready to play.

“Squad for the World Cup? It’ll be named in May and after that, we’ll make decisions. Of course, if everything goes as planned, Jordi Alba and Isco will be in the squad, but decisions will be made accordingly.

“We must insist on what we’ve been able to do well, while I must ensure the best conditions for the players, who are our leading lights, so that they can make the most of their talent.

“Messi and Argentina? We’ll respect any team that face us. I won’t discuss whether I like this team or that player.

“You can’t control the draw. What comes out will be fine with us.”

Tags 2018 World Cup Costa Rica Julen Lopetegui Russia Spain