MADRID - Spain are wary of their
well-oiled Euro 2012 bandwagon getting stuck in the mud in
Kaunas as the state of the pitch and Lithuania's defensive
tactics dominate their thinking for Tuesday's qualifier.
The world and European champions top Group I by six points
with a 100 percent record from four games after coming back to
beat their closest challengers, the Czech Republic, 2-1 at home
They visit the Baltic nation, however, with concerns over
the playing surface at the Darius and Girenas stadium, which has
barely any grass on it after a harsh winter.
"From the pictures we have seen it reminds me of the dirt
pitches we used to play on when we were young," Andres Iniesta,
the scorer of Spain's winner in the World Cup final last year,
told a news conference on Sunday.
"Whether to play or not isn't our decision, that's up to the
referee and UEFA. Obviously they aren't the best conditions, but
if we have to play we will be ready to do so."
Spain beat Lithuania 3-1 in Salamanca last October but had
to work hard to open up their visitors, all three goals coming
in the second half.
"They're a team who stick to you and don't let you breathe,"
Iniesta said. "They defend from deep, which is habitual from
many teams now. We are away from home, in conditions which
perhaps aren't the best...it will be tough."
A decision with regards to the pitch is expected to be taken
on Tuesday, the Lithuanian soccer federation has said.
The hosts, fourth in the group with four points from three
games, warmed up with a 2-0 friendly win over Poland in the same
stadium on Friday, using a system coach Raimondas Zutautas hoped
to use against Spain.
"The team implemented a game plan very well on Friday by
counter-attacking on the wings," Zutautas told Reuters by
"We don't need any special motivation for the match against
Spain, it's already enough that we will be playing against world
"We would be happy to win or draw, but we would not be very
disappointed if we lost."
Lithuania defender Marius Stankevicius, who plays for
Spanish side Valencia, was apologetic about the state of their
"I am sad about the conditions in which we are receiving
teams such as Poland and Spain," he said. "It's a shame for
Lithuania: 1-Zydrunas Karcemarskas; 23-Marius Stankevicius,
5-Andrius Skerla, 3-Ramunas Radavicius, 4-Tadas Kijanskas;
7-Mindaugas Panka, 8-Edgaras Cesnauskis, 2-Deividas Semberas,
13-Saulius Mikoliunas; 10-Darvydas Sernas, 9-Tomas Danilevicius.
Spain: 1-Iker Casillas; 17-Alvaro Arbeloa, 15-Sergio Ramos,
3-Gerard Pique, 11-Joan Capdevila; 22-Jesus Navas, 8-Xavi,
14-Xabi Alonso, 16-Sergio Busquets, 6-Andres Iniesta; 7-David
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