Villa back to lead Spain’s quest

Energised by the return from injury of David Villa and a thumping recent friendly win,Spain couldn’t be in better shape as the team begins its qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup

Written by Associated Press | London | Published:September 11, 2012 12:27 am

Energised by the return from injury of David Villa and a thumping recent friendly win,Spain couldn’t be in better shape as the team begins its qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday.

The Spanish will hope the road to Brazil ends with an unprecedented fourth straight major title,backing up the defense of their European Championship earlier this year with the retention of their world crown.

First up for Spain in five-team Group I is a trip to Georgia. Villa will be available after playing in his first match in the national jersey since November and scoring in the 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia on Friday — taking his all-time leading tally for the world’s top-ranked side to 52.

“I missed my teammates,living all this,the moment of arriving to training sessions with the national squad,” Villa said. “I note an improvement in how I feel with every outing. I am quicker and more explosive.”

Qualifying in the European zone began on Friday,with Italy the only top side to fail to start with a victory. The Netherlands,Germany,Portugal,England and France will all look to make it two wins from two after opening up with contrasting victories on Friday.

On Tuesday,France takes on Belarus — the team that stunned Les Bleus with a surprise 1-0 win in Saint-Denis at the start of Euro 2012 qualifying — and coach Didier Deschamps wants more from his forwards,who haven’t scored in the team’s past five matches.

Germany travels to Austria buoyed by a seven-match winning streak over its neighbour and is looking to emulate its run in Euro 2012 qualifying and finish with a perfect record.

England will be without Chelsea defenders Ashley Cole and John Terry,along with Theo Walcott for the home match against Ukraine after they were ruled out because of injury .

There are 25 qualifiers in Europe,while in South America,Argentina is likely to maintain its lead atop the standings in matches on Tuesday.

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