Strange that World Cup Winners Need to Qualify: Casillas

Tbilisi (Georgia), Sep 11 (IANS): Spain captain Iker Casillas says that as defending World Cup champions, it felt strange to battle in out in the qualifiers for the 2014 edition.

Spain play away to Georgia Tuesday in a match coach Vicente del Bosque describes as the first game of the defence of the title they won in South Africa in 2010, but as defending champions, Casillas thinks that Spain should qualify for 2014 by right, Xinhua reports.

The reigning champions used to qualify directly for the following World Cup finals, but that ended after 2010 and now the champions have to battle it out with everyone else for the right to defend their crown.

"Obviously it is strange that the World Cup champions don't have their tickets reserved, but it has been decided that it will be this way," said Casillas in the pre-game press conference here Monday.

"It could happen that Spain don't get to the finals and it would be odd if the reigning champions couldn't defend their title, although it is other people who have decided that is right or not for us to qualify," added Casillas.

Spain are in a five-team group along with Georgia, France, Belarus and Finland and with only one guaranteed qualification spot they have little room for error.

"We are in Georgia to get the first three points, in theory apart from France, we should not have too many problems on our away matches, but you can always drop a couple of points, so we have to win against Georgia, who already have three points, (after beating Belarus Friday). It is important to win and then to beat Belarus in our next match before we entertain France in the Vicente Calderon."

"That would be a good way to help get qualification on track," said Casillas, who added his team-mates would continue with their style of touch football, which as seen them win the 2008 and 2012 European Championships as well as the 2010 World Cup.

"We have our style of play and we have had it for a while now. The style continues and I don't think we are going to change it much. If new players arise they will have to adapt to it," he concluded.


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Title: Strange that World Cup Winners Need to Qualify: Casillas

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