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Preview: Romania vs. Spain - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews the Euro 2020 Group F qualifier between Romania and Spain at the Arena Nationala.

Spain face their toughest test in Group F so far when they attempt to protect their perfect record in this qualifying campaign against a Romania team lying joint-second in the table after four rounds of games.

Avoiding defeat would give the 2012 tournament winners every right to anticipate a place at Euro 2020, but a home win would put Romania back within sight of the top of the section.

Match preview

Ianis Hagi in action for Romania against Malta during a Euro 2020 qualifier in June 2019© Reuters

Football has taken a back seat in Spain since the shocking news of the death of former coach Luis Enrique's daughter on Sunday.

Enrique left his position as national team manager to care for his youngest child in June, and the nation and wider football world have been united in offering their support to his family in the aftermath of the announcement.

The former Barcelona and Roma coach led the start of Spain's Euro 2020 qualification campaign, overseeing initial wins against Malta and Norway earlier this year prior to a pair of three-goal victories against the Faroe Islands and Sweden shortly before his departure.

The trip to Romania is the first official match under new manager Robert Moreno, although Enrique's circumstances meant the assistant has been in interim charge for three matches, beginning with the win in Malta at the end of March.

With Romania hosting Malta and Spain welcoming the Faroe Islands three days after this match, both sides know that a win in Bucharest would be a significant achievement ahead of what should be routine victories at the weekend.

Rodrigo is mobbed by his Spain teammates after opening the scoring in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Norway on March 23, 2019© Reuters

In winning all four of their fixtures so far, Spain have conceded just two goals and opened up a five-point lead over Romania, who are level on points with Sweden behind the group leaders.

Spain's thrilling 3-2 defeat to Croatia in the Nations League last November remains their sole loss in 90 minutes outside of Spain since 2016, but Romania could fancy their chances given their home record against these opponents.

They are unbeaten in all six of these fixtures in Romania, winning three of them. On their most recent competitive visit to Bucharest, in 1987, only a late consolation goal made the score more respectable for Spain after the home side had raced into a 3-0 lead before half time.

Romania's defeat in Sweden in March is their only defeat in 14 matches, although they were beaten 3-0 by the Netherlands when they last welcomed elite opposition, back in 2017.

Romania form: WDWLWW
Spain form: WWWWWL

Team News

Spain captain Sergio Ramos celebrates scoring against Faroe Islands in their Euro 2020 qualifier on June 7, 2019© Reuters

Versatile regular Alexandru Chipciu, who scored in the 4-0 win in Malta in June, is suspended for Romania.

The Anderlecht midfielder's experience will be missed given Spain's quality and the importance of avoiding defeat in the context of their qualification hopes.

Moreno has left some high-profile names out of his travelling squad, with seasoned internationals including Diego Costa, Koke and Alvaro Morata missing out.

The unfortunate Marco Asensio is also absent, having undergone an operation at the start of last month that could rule him out of the final Euro tournament.

The Real Madrid winger ruptured ligaments during a pre-season encounter with Arsenal, although the surgery to his left knee is reported to have been successful.

One of Asensio's teammates at the Bernabeu, Isco, is also out with a hamstring injury sustained in his club's
1-1 draw at home to Real Valladolid.

There is better news for Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who is poised to claim his place as Spain's joint-most capped player this week.

The defender will equal Iker Casillas' record of 167 international appearances if he appears against Romania and the Faroe Islands.

Romania possible starting lineup: Tatarusanu; Grigore, Nedelcearu, Chiriches, Tosca; Marin, Stanciu, Maxim, Hagi; Puscas, Keseru

Spain possible starting lineup: Kepa; Carvajal, Ramos, Martinez, Alba; Parejo, Busquets, Fabian; Moreno, Rodrigo, Alcacer

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We say: Romania 1-2 Spain

Another month, another round of tough-to-call away trips for Europe's leading sides. Many in Spain see this match as an irrelevance in the circumstances, and their heavy odds-on status seems a little short given Romania's seven-match unbeaten run at home, keeping five clean sheets.

That said, the Tricolours' fine form against also-rans becomes significantly shakier when they face the best. In a qualifying campaign that has been almost flawless so far, this could be the Spain squad to end that poor record in Bucharest.

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Who will win Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifying clash between Romania and Spain?

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Sergio Ramos reacts during the Nations League game between Spain and England on October 15, 2018
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