Malta national coach Ray Farrugia asked his players for an “extra effort” as Malta faces Group F leaders Spain in another match from the European Qualifiers leading to EURO 2020 at the Estadio Ramón de Carranza in Cadiz on Friday, kick-off at 20:45.
Malta lost the last seven matches but what hurt most the fans was last month’s 1-0 defeat to the Faroe Islands as this provided the most real opportunity of avoiding the bottom spot in the group. The remaining fixtures against Spain and Norway are definitely a much tougher nut to crack.
Photos: Copyright domenic aquilina/MFA
Addressing the media on Thursday, Farrugia admitted this will be a very difficult game but the team is looking forward to playing this game.
“Spain is one of the top team in the world, if not the best team. But tomorrow we need to be compact and be ready for the game.”
Farrugia stressed on the importance of concentrating on this game rather than the actual objective of avoiding the bottom place in the group.
“Against the Faroe Islands, we lost but we had won at home 2-1. We now have to concentrate on this game. It is not about finishing last or not finishing last. We are playing Spain. We prepared well. We concentrate on this game and then we concentrate on Norway.”
Spain is renowned for having the lion’s share of ball possession and Farrugia remarked that it was their strong point.
“If you look at every game, Spain’s possession is 75 to 82 per cent. In the last game against Sweden, in the first six minutes, they did 200-something passes and Sweden eighteen.. We know this is the strongest point of Spain is the possession game. You are running after the ball and this will be the same on Friday. We have to be prepared and put an extra effort.”
In the three matches played on Spanish soil, Malta suffered heavy defeats as apart from the infamous 12-1 defeat in 1983 in Seville, Malta suffered two 4-0 defeats in Seville in 1989 and in Alicante in 1997.
Andrei Agius added that the players are more than aware of the challenge they have against one of the strongest teams.
“However for us, it is just another game where we need to give our utmost and try to get something, as crazy as it may seem. We have an objective and we will do our best to reach it at the end of this qualifying stage.”
For this match, the Malta coach could not count on the suspended Steve Borg but on a positive note, Juan Carlos Corbalan will be back after skipping the last two games due to an injury.
Steve Borg should be replaced by Jonathan Caruana while Corbalan should be drafted in the starting line-up.
Spain have already secured qualification, despite two 1-1 draws in their last two matches but coach Roberto Moreno may hand the debut to midfielder Dani Olmo and defender Pau Torres could make their debuts for Spain.