Evening all! Sports Mole
's live international friendly coverage continues from Villarreal as Spain
. Both of these teams will be present at the finals of the 2018 World Cup, and tonight we have the chance to see how they are shaping up! Spain are fancied to make a strong play for the crown in Russia, but it will be tough for Switzerland despite their talent.
Spain have only ever lost once to Switzerland, but that defeat occurred in their last meeting at the 2010 World Cup. These two nations have actually not locked horns in an international friendly since December 1989, and it was Spain that recorded a 2-1 win on that occasion.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from Villarreal. Are all of the big guns on show tonight? Let's have a look at the two XIs here...
SPAIN: De Gea; Odriozola, Pique, Azpilicueta, Alba; Koke, D.Silva, Thiago, Iniesta; Costa, Aspas
SWITZERLAND: Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schar, Akanji, Rodriguez; Behrami, Zakaria; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic
starts at right-back for Spain tonight, while Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta is in at centre-back alongside Gerard Pique, with Sergio Ramos unavailable due to his involvement in the Champions League final. Diego Costa and Iago Aspas will line up in the final third of the field, while Andres Iniesta plays for the first time since his move to Japan was confirmed.
As for Switzerland, Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri will start in a wide position, with Benfica's Haris Seferovic picked to lead the line. Experienced midfielder Blerim Dzemaili also starts for the visitors here, but West Ham United's Edimilson Fernandes is only on the bench. The skipper Stephan Lichtsteiner, who continues to be linked with a move to Arsenal, is in at right-back.
So there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff tonight. I shall speak about Switzerland a little bit later, but let's start with the home side Spain. There is no question that Julen Lopetegui's side are among the favourites to triumph in Russia.
Spain have not actually lost a match since suffering a 2-0 defeat to Italy in the last-16 stage of Euro 2016. They have played four friendlies since booking their spot at the 2018 World Cup - starting with a 5-0 win over Costa Rica before drawing back-to-back games with Russia and Germany.
Spain thumped Argentina 6-1 last time out, meanwhile, with that incredible success coming back in March. La Roja won the World Cup back in 2010, but struggled at the 2014 competition in Brazil as they were eliminated in the group stage. This summer they will expect to challenge.
Spain will face Switzerland tonight before tackling Tunisia next weekend in their final international friendly before this summer's tournament begins. Spain's World Cup opener is against Portugal on June 15, before taking on Iran and Morocco in their final two group matches. That clash with Portugal on the Friday night is shaping up to be a stunning game.
Switzerland, meanwhile, will open their World Cup group campaign against Brazil on June 17, before taking on Serbia and Costa Rica in their final two group matches. Brazil will surely advance from that particular section as the winners, but second position is very much open.
Switzerland reached the last-16 stage of the 2018 World Cup, and they have not actually been past that round in any World Cup since 1954 - when they made the quarter-finals on home soil. There is a lot of talent in the Swiss squad, but it would take some effort for them to challenge for the crown in Russia. That said, stranger things have certainly happened!
In terms of what is ahead for Switzerland, they will take on Spain tonight before facing Japan next Friday in their final match before this summer's competition begins. It will be very interesting to see what kind of shape Vladimir Petkovic's side are in ahead of the tournament.
Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is only on the bench for Switzerland tonight, but there is no question that he will be in the team for the clash with Brazil. Stoke's Shaqiri does feature in the starting XI here, however, and he will support leading forward Seferovic, who has 11 international goals.
Here we go then; both sets of players have joined us on the pitch ahead of kickoff in Villarreal. Once the national anthems have been sung and the pre-match handshakes have been exchanged, we will be just about ready to get things underway. Stay tuned for the action!
KICKOFF! Spain kick things off in Villarreal...
... it must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium tonight; let's hope for an entertaining game. As expected, Spain have taken control of the early possession here.
SAVE! Super save from Sommer to keep out a strike from Thiago as Spain impress in the early exchanges. Koke also had an effort blocked in the build-up.
Switzerland are struggling to get the ball at the moment as Spain continue to pass and probe. Lopetegui's side look keen to put on another show following their mauling of Argentina.
It does appear that Spain are playing a 4-3-3 formation tonight, with David Silva and Aspas either side of Costa, who had already had a couple of run-ins with the Swiss defence here.
Aspas has been nice and bright for Spain in the first eight minutes of this match, and the former Liverpool forward will be keen to make an impression. Switzerland manage to venture forward through Lichtsteiner, but Seferovic is in an offside position in the middle.
Still goalless with 10 minutes on the clock, but it has been all Spain in terms of possession and attacking intent. Just a reminder that Isco is also among the Spain absentees tonight due to his involvement in the Champions League final; Sergio Ramos misses out for the same reason.
Aspas wins a corner from Akanji as Spain look to pick their way through the Swiss defence once again. The resulting set piece is worked into Iniesta, but the visitors manage to clear.
A lot of Spain's work is coming down the left as Alba, Iniesta and David Silva combine. Switzerland have been pretty solid at the back, however, as they clear time and time again.
Alba hits the deck for Spain following a late challenge on Shaqiri, but the Barcelona defender does return to his feet. Any injury tonight would be an absolute nightmare.
Quite a bitty game at the moment due to the number of late challenges.
Half-chance for Spain, but Costa heads a David Silva cross well wide of the post.
CLOSE! Spain's best chance of the match comes to David Silva following good work from Costa, but the Manchester City midfielder just misses the far post!
CHANCE! Big chance for Switzerland as Dzemaili finds himself free inside the Spain box, but the number 15 misses the crossbar. Might have done better from there!
Costa continues to get himself involved in little scraps. No such thing as a friendly for Costa!
Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining, and Spain have been the better team without really threatening on too many occasions. Switzerland will be pretty content.
GOAL! Spain 1-0 Switzerland (Odriozola)
Spain take the lead in the 29th minute as Odriozola finds the bottom corner with a wonderful effort from outside the box. It was begging to be hit, and the right-back converted!
Pass, pass, pass from Spain as they continue to move the ball in the final third.
Half-chance for Switzerland as Lichtsteiner breaks into a dangerous position before delivering low cross towards Shaqiri, but the Stoke attacker cannot make contact under pressure.
Iniesta has been an absolute delight in the first half of this match. The midfielder has left Barcelona this summer for Japan, but he is still an absolute genius at every level of football.
Switzerland have certainly had more of the ball in the last couple of minutes here.
Smart work from Spain down the left as David Silva feeds Aspas, but the attacker's low cross is blocked behind. The resulting corner is then headed wide of the post by Costa.
Simple save from Sommer to keep out a curling strike from Iniesta.
Switzerland have struggled to cause Spain problems in the first period, but the away team will be pretty pleased with the first 44 minutes of this match. It has needed an excellent strike from Odriozola to make the breakthrough here. There is a very interesting second half ahead.
SAVE! Sommer makes another fine save to keep out an Iniesta strike!
HALF-TIME: Spain 1-0 Switzerland
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Spain leading Switzerland 1-0 courtesy of a super effort from Odriozola in the 29th minute. Switzerland have had some decent moments in the final third, but the home side certainly deserve to be ahead.
STATISTICS! Spain dominated the first-half possession with 61%, while they had nine attempts - four of which were on target. Switzerland, meanwhile, failed to hit the target with either of their two attempts in the first 45 minutes. No yellow cards to report despite some late tackles.
BENCH WATCH! Drmic, Embolo, Gelson Fernandes, Lang and Edimilson Fernandes are among those on the Switzerland bench tonight, and will be hoping to feature in the second period. As for Spain, we could see the likes of Asensio, Rodri, Lucas Vazquez, Rodrigo and Saul off the bench.
RESTART! Switzerland resume the action here...
... SPAIN SUB! Lucas Vazquez has replaced Aspas for the home side.
SWITZERLAND SUB! Djourou has replaced Schar for the away side.
SWITZERLAND SUB! Embolo has also replaced Dzemaili.
Iniesta looks to have a problem here following a collision with Embolo.
Iniesta is back on his feet, which is excellent news. It has been a lively start to the second period, with both defences taking some chances. Surely there are more goals to come.
Possession football from Spain as they look to work their way through once again.
Koke has a strike blocked on the edge of the Switzerland box as Spain threaten to score a second. There is plenty happening at the moment as both teams concede possession.
CLOSE! Iniesta just misses the Switzerland post with a low strike!
SPAIN SUB! Saul Niguez replaces Iniesta for the home side.
Little over 30 minutes remaining in Villarreal, and the tempo of the match has certainly been impacted by the changes that have been made. I would be surprised if we had seen the last of the goals, however, as both defences do not exactly look secure at the moment.
BOOKING! Saul (Spain) is booked for a poor tackle on Shaqiri.
MISS! Alba just misses the goal with an effort from close range.
SPAIN SUBS! Rodrigo and Asensio replace Costa and David Silva.
GOAL! Spain 1-1 Switzerland (Rodriguez)
Wow! Switzerland level the scores in the 62nd minute as Rodriguez smashes home from close range following a mistake from De Gea, who failed to deal with a weak effort from Lichtsteiner!
SWITZERLAND SUBS! G Fernandes and Lang replace Behrami and Lichtsteiner.
Little over 25 minutes of football remaining, and Switzerland might well fancy their chances of winning this during a period where both managers are preparing more changes here.
Rodriguez has just signalled to the bench that he might not be able to continue here.
Spain are preparing to make two more changes, with Nacho and Monreal waiting.
SPAIN SUB! Nacho replaces Odriozola for the home side.
Little under 20 minutes of football remaining, and we are locked at 1-1 in Villarreal.
Rodrigo just cannot fashion a shooting chance having met a long pass from Asensio. Not too much to report in terms of opportunities at the moment as we head for the final 15 minutes.
Smart goalkeeping from Sommer to punch clear a cross from Asensio as Spain start to move the ball with more pace in the final third of the field. Still 1-1 with 76 minutes on the clock.
SWITZERLAND SUB! Rodriguez is replaced by Moubandje.
SPAIN SUB! Monreal replaces Alba for the home side.
Little over 10 minutes of football remaining, and Spain currently have possession here.
You do get the feeling that there is another goal in this match as Spain continue to move the ball in the final third of the field. Not too much from Switzerland at the moment here.
SAVE! Wonderful save from Sommer to keep out a strike from Lucas Vazquez, who had combined with Rodrigo in a dangerous position. Great stuff from Sommer.
Half-chance for Thiago, but the midfielder's header was always moving wide of the post.
This result would be huge for Switzerland, who face Brazil in the opening match of their 2018 World Cup campaign. Spain have not really done enough in the second half of this one.
BOOKING! Zuber (Switzerland) is booked for an elbow on Koke.
POST! Nacho clips the outside of the post with a curling effort!
CHANCE! Nacho heads a Koke corner just wide of the post!
Not long left here, and Switzerland are well worth a 1-1 on the night.
FULL-TIME: Spain 1-1 Switzerland
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Switzerland holding Spain to a 1-1 draw in Villarreal. Fair play to the away side for coming from behind on the night. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live international coverage once again. Until next time!