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Spain prepares for tough friendly against Germany

November 17, 2014

MADRID (AP) — In an effort to rebuild Spain’s national soccer team, coach Vicente del Bosque is looking for something new.

And on Tuesday, he’ll be searching for something to challenge World Cup champion Germany in a friendly.

The Spanish won the 2008 European Championship, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 in a four-year span. But the good times turned sour at this year’s World Cup in Brazil, when the defending champions were eliminated in the first round.

“It is difficult for the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, David Villa and Fernando Torres to be repeated, but those coming through now are good players,” Del Bosque said.

And, possibly, a new system to replace the tiki-taka passing game.

“We want to be more rapid and direct,” the coach said.

Here are some things to know about Tuesday’s friendly:

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NO REVENGE

Germany coach Joachim Loew is stressing that the friendly in Vigo is no chance for revenge.

Germany’s losses to Spain at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup are too long ago “and play no role for either team.”

And even though it’s a friendly, Germany expects a competitive match.

“I assume that the former World Cup champion will want to beat the current title holder,” Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos said.

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CUT DOWN TO SIZE

Although everyone seemed to love Francisco “Isco” Alarcon’s performance against Belarus, Del Bosque was not so impressed.

The coach said Isco’s display went against his new philosophy of directness, and that the player “got lost trying to be a virtuoso.”

Those comments seemed to hurt.

“I’m only 22 years old,” Isco said. “I erred a little in trying to do things too prettily.”

Isco said his aim was to become a more complete player, fitting into different roles on the field.

“I want to improve in defense, on the ball, score more goals,” Isco said. “I never want to tire of improving.”

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HURTING GERMANY

Germany is struggling with injuries.

The latest players to drop out of the squad are goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and central defender Jerome Boateng.

Loew reacted by calling up newcomer Robin Knoche, a defender from Wolfsburg. Either Roman Weidenfeller or Ron-Robert Zieler, the two backup goalkeepers who were also in Brazil, will be in next.

Even before the international week, Germany was hit by the injuries of Marco Reus, Julian Draxler and Christoph Kramer. Mesut Ozil, Andre Schuerrle and Bastian Schweinsteiger were ruled out even before, as well as defender Mats Hummels.

That means Germany’s defense against Spain will have an untested new look.

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DETERMINED DEL BOSQUE

For Del Bosque, no one’s job is safe.

Spain is second behind Slovakia in Group C, and defender Sergio Ramos suggested last week it would be good for the national squad to offer the same security or commitment to players as clubs did.

Del Bosque didn’t agree.

“It could be that when Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas return, some other player may be in their position,” Del Bosque said. “This isn’t a threat, it’s a reality.”

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AP Sports Writer Nesha Starcevic in Frankfurt contributed to this report.

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