How many goals will Spain score on Tahiti in Confederations Cup?
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- There's one big question hanging over Spain's team at the Confederations Cup: how many goals will the World Cup champions score in their upcoming match against tiny Tahiti, the representative for Oceania.
African champions Nigeria defeated the South Pacific islanders 6-1 in their opening game, and missed at least half a dozen easy chances.
Spain is expected to make a few changes in Thursday's Group B mismatch, but may stick with many of its regulars.
Spanish winger Pedro was put on the spot several times Tuesday about the number of goals Spain would score, and his reply was diplomatic saying repeatedly: "I don't know, I don't know.''
It's difficult to imagine a mismatch much larger than this one.
"It's true we're the clear favorites,'' Pedro said politely. "But all games are tough and you have to play them as such. For sure, Tahiti will try to make it difficult for us. It's an important game for us, and we have to respect the opponent. You have to play the game instead of saying we are going to win and score such-and-such number of goals.''
Spain is ranked No. 1 in FIFA's rankings and won the 2010 World Cup and the last two European championships.
Tahiti is No. 138, trapped between Syria and Afghanistan.
Spain's 23 players are regulars at big European club teams, and many are starters at Barcelona and Real Madrid, arguably the two most powerful club teams on earth.
Tahiti has one professional player. That's Marama Vahirua, a striker with Greek club Panthrakikos. He is the only Tahitian to ever play professionally outside the island.
Of its 23, nine are unemployed - as is coach Eddie Etaeta. Others have day jobs as delivery boys, truck drivers, physical education teachers and accountants.
The match will be played at Rio's renovated Maracana stadium. It held the final game of the 1950 World Cup with a crowd estimated at between 170,000 and 200,000. The stadium capacity has been reduced to 78,000.
For comparison, the population of the South Pacific island is only 180,000.
Reporters ask Pedro at least four times about the outcome. He dodged the question each time.
"Like I said, you have to give them respect. I don't know if it's going to be a lopsided result, or not.''
Many are expecting one.
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