Reserves get a chance
Coach Luis Aragones will give Spain's reserves a chance to prove themselves when the Euro 2008 quarterfinalists face Greece in their final Group D game on Wednesday.
Spain, who will meet Group C's runners-up in the last eight on Sunday, take on a Greece side already eliminated after the Euro 2004 winners suffered two consecutive defeats.
“With first place guaranteed my initial thought is to change almost everyone and give some of the other players a chance to show they are ready,” said Aragones as he prepared for the game in Salzburg.
“At least that is my thought right now, although I suppose I could change my mind.”
If Aragones sticks to his original plan, Cesc Fabregas, who made telling contributions after coming off the bench in the first two matches, is likely to get the task of running the midfield alongside Xabi Alonso and Ruben de la Red.
The other midfield slot is in doubt, however, after Santi Cazorla injured his left foot during Saturday's last-gasp 2-1 win over Sweden, so Andres Iniesta may retain his place in the starting line-up.
Pepe Reina should step in for Iker Casillas in goal behind an all-new back four, while up front Spain's lethal strike combination of David Villa and Fernando Torres should be rested.
Dani Guiza, who topped the Primera Liga scoring charts with 27 goals last season, is favourite to lead the attack alongside Sergio Garcia.
Aragones also fielded a second string side in Spain's final group game against Saudi Arabia in the 2006 World Cup.
Although they won the game, the first-choice players appeared to lose momentum after spending a week on ice ahead of their last 16 defeat by France.
Torres was quick to sound a warning about the dangers of taking anything for granted ahead of the knockout rounds.
“We've done our job so far, but it is from the quarterfinals onwards that it really counts,” said the striker.
“We've been in this situation many times before and for one reason or another we haven't achieved anything. So we don't feel like favourites nor do we want to be.”
Spain could face either of the 2006 World Cup finalists, Italy and France, or Romania, from Group C on Sunday in Vienna.
Having slumped to lacklustre defeats in their opening two games, Greece want to leave the tournament with at least one good performance and a goal.
Like Aragones, Greek coach Otto Rehhagel has said that he will field several second string players in the match, although his changes have been forced because of injury.
Defenders Giourkas Seitaridis and Vassilis Torosidis are out, striker Fanis Gekas has a fractured cheekbone and midfielder Giorgios Karagounis is doubtful.
Alexandros Tziolis, Loukas Vintra, Nikos Spyropoulos and striker Dimitris Salpigidis are the favourites to step into the breach.
First-choice keeper Antonis Nikopolidis is expected to start despite a blunder against Russia that led to the game's only goal as Wednesday's match marks his final international appearance.
Nikopolidis, who has won 89 caps, has announced his retirement from the team after the tournament, as has defender Paraskevas Antzas.