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Jun 20, 2013

Spain ring changes for Tahiti tie

As Tahiti's players preapare themselves for the biggest game of their careers, never has the phrase David and Goliath been more fitting.

Vicente del Bosque is to make ten changes for Spain's second Confederations Cup game against minnows Tahiti on Thursday evening.

• Confederations Cup preview: Spain v Tahiti
• Alvarez: Spanish desire for success remains intact

Sergio Ramos is the only starter from Sunday's 2-1 win over Uruguay likely to keep his place, with Del Bosque giving back-ups including Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla, Javi Martinez, David Villa and Nacho Monreal a chance. Cesar Azpilicueta, who played in a 2009 Under-20 World Cup clash between the countries which ended 8-0 to Spain, is also expected to start.

The current La Roja senior boss told El Larguero that his decision was less to do with the strength of the Tahiti side and more that everyone in his squad deserved a chance to play.

"We have players who deserve to play, because they are very good," Del Bosque said. "They are starters for their clubs, and not used to sitting on the bench. We are going to give them the affection that is very important for the relationships and good atmosphere altogether."

Del Bosque's most pressing selection decision during the tournament has been between the posts, where Iker Casillas played against Uruguay despite not having featured for Real Madrid since January. He said Liverpool's Pepe Reina would start in goal against Tahiti, current blaugrana keeper Victor Valdes would play in Sunday's final group game against Nigeria, but Casillas might then come back in for the semi-finals.

"Reina will play in goal, then Victor, then we will see for the fourth game," he said.

Speaking on Onda Cero show Al Primer Toque, Reina - who was again ambiguous when asked about a summer move to replace Valdes at Barcelona - said the competition for places showed how strong Spanish goalkeeping was at present.

"I do not know the team yet although I have heard there will be changes," he said. "But I am ready to play if called upon. Whichever of the three of us play can do it well. The team benefits from the good health of Spanish goalkeeping, including those who are outside the squad."

Raul Albiol, a member of Spain's winning squads at Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012, but who watched most of all three competitions from the bench, told a press conference on Wednesday that Spain had the strength in-depth to field two equally good XIs.

"The good thing about this national side is that anyone can play," Albiol said. "You could make two teams and not notice the difference."

Andres Iniesta, who will be on the bench, said nobody will be easing up on their opponents, who lost their opening game 6-1 to Nigeria on Monday.

"The biggest respect we could have for our opponents is to play the best we can and not relax," Iniesta said. "The coach will know who should play. There are no starters and substitutes, we are all ready to play. The most important thing is the three points and to win. We are not thinking about how many goals we will score."

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