Featured Matches
Previous
Seattle Sounders FC
Los Angeles
ESPN2 2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Richmond Kickers
Crystal Palace
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Manchester United
Internazionale
Jul 29, 2014 11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Madrid
AS Roma
Jul 29, 2014 1:15 AM GMT
Game Details
Norwich City
Nice
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Richmond Kickers
Crystal Palace
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Brøndby
Silkeborg IF
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
AIK
Falkenbergs FF
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
BK Hacken
Djurgarden
5:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Seattle Sounders FC
Los Angeles
ESPN2 2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Tigre
All Boys
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Belgrano de Córdoba
Independiente
12:15 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

Ronaldo focused on qualification, not prizes | Tyler

World Cup reaction Nov 20, 2013
Read

Platini: Not end of world if France fail Video | Delaney

France news Nov 17, 2013
Read

Del Bosque signs Spain extension | Hunter

World Cup news Nov 15, 2013
Read

Spain fringe players eye friendly chance | Hunter

World Cup news Nov 15, 2013
Read

Giroud happy with evolution of France role

World Cup news Nov 15, 2013
Read

Deschamps: France are not afraid | Benzema

France news Nov 14, 2013
Read

FIFA biased against Ronaldo - Pepe | Brassell

World Cup news Nov 14, 2013
Read
Oct 14, 2013

Iniesta: 'Huge joy' to play in Albacete

Andres Iniesta said he is delighted Spain are playing Tuesday’s final World Cup 2014 qualifier in his home town of Albacete.

• Johnson: The race to Brazil

However, the excitement of the event must not distract from the need to get a point at least to seal direct qualification for next summer’s finals in Brazil.

Iniesta grew up in the small nearby town of Fuentealbilla before moving to Barcelona’s La Masia academy aged 12. He has invested his own money in local side Albacete Balompie, which is one of the many regional Spanish clubs to have fallen into economic difficulties in recent seasons.

The Barcelona star’s family’s vineyard ‘Bodegas Iniesta’ also sponsors the current Segunda B semi-professional club’s jerseys.

The World Cup winner told Monday evening’s pre-game press conference at the Estadio Carlos Belmonte that the game against the Georgians would be special for him.

“When I found out the game would be here, it was a huge joy for me,” Iniesta said. “The emotion will be very strong, because when you feel these things they fill you up. I will enjoy it to the maximum, today and tomorrow, and the local fans must do so too.”

Asked if La Roja coach Vicente Del Bosque might make him captain for the game, Iniesta was quick to point out that ensuring qualification for next summer’s finals overshadows everything else to do with the fixture.

“Nobody should forget that gaining the required result to ensure qualification for Brazil 2014 is by far the most important thing,” he said. “This is not a friendly, we need to be 100% focused on the game. It is not a friendly game, not a homage. [Although] it would be very special for me, on a personal level, to seal qualification here.”

The blaugrana midfielder, 29, did recall his debut for Spain, which also happened to be a pre-World Cup 2006 against Russia played at the Carlos Belmonte.

“I remember it as one of the happiest days of my life - on a sporting level,” Iniesta said. “Having the fortune to make your debut in your home place, can you imagine? Now I have a chance to return again. Obviously I would like to score, but the most important is to help the team and play well.”

Spain won all their qualifiers in their two previous campaigns under Del Bosque, but have struggled more this time around - with 1-1 draws in both their two first home qualifiers against France and Finland. Then came Friday’s narrower than expected 2-1 win against a Belarus side who defended in numbers and nullified the World Champions for long periods of the game.

Iniesta said he expected the Georgians to also sit back and defend, but he hoped his team could score quickly on Tuesday which would open up the game.

“We expect them to set up the same as we found [the opposition] in our last games,” he said. “We can use variants [in attack]. When we go ahead quickly on the scoreboard, then the game is more comfortable.”

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.