Saudi Arabia  

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Spain are faced with a difficult task after the FIFA World Cupô Final Draw in Leipzig grouped them with Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. The seeded nation have potential difficulties against all three opponents with Ukraine, appearing at the finals for the first time, among the most impressive European qualifiers. Tunisia are the reigning African champions while Saudi Arabia beat Korea Republic (semi-finalists at the 2002 FIFA World Cup) home and away to win their Asian qualifying group.
  Standings and Results
Group H MP W D L GF GA Pts
ESP 3 3 0 0 8 1 9
UKR 3 2 0 1 5 4 6
TUN 3 0 1 2 3 6 1
KSA 3 0 1 2 2 7 1

14 Jun ESP : UKR 4:0
14 Jun TUN : KSA 2:2
19 Jun ESP : TUN 3:1
19 Jun KSA : UKR 0:4
23 Jun KSA : ESP  
23 Jun UKR : TUN  

Date in your diary: Leipzig, 14 June, Spain v Ukraine
The first game in the group will give a better guide as to the impact Ukraine are likely to make on their debut. Spain, who so often underachieve, will be hoping to hit the ground running and show that it could be a case of 12th time lucky for them.

David v Goliath: Kaiserslautern, 23 June, Spain v Saudi Arabia
When the Saudi Arabians last faced one of Europeís big battalions in 2002, Gemany thrashed them 8-0.

History repeats itself: Munich, 14 June, Tunisia v Saudi Arabia
There have been precious few previous meetings between the four nations. In 1985 Tunisia hosted the Saudis in a friendly and won 1-0, a scoreline that was reversed when the teams met in Riyadh three years later.


Logic suggests that Spain and Ukraine will dominate but it is an intriguing group in which all four teams can be expected to compete strongly. Tunisia are returning to Germany where they gave a good account of themselves at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, running Argentina close in a 2-1 defeat before defeating Australia 2-0.

If he recovers from injury in time, Ukraine will keep a close eye on Spain striker Raul. When the teams met in qualifying for the 2004 UEFA European Championship, the Real Madrid man scored three goals over the sidesí two matches. Ukraine have improved since then, becoming the first side from Europe to qualify for Germany and winning a group that included Turkey, Greece and Denmark.

Coach Roger Lemerre became the first coach to win continental titles in both Europe and Africa when he led Tunisia to their CAF African Cup of Nations success in 2004. They defeated Morocco in the final and edged out the same opponents to win a place in the FIFA World Cup finals for the third successive time. Saudi Arabia can go one better than that and in their fourth finals will be hoping to at least match their record in 1994 when they advanced to the second round before losing to Sweden.

Did you know?
Of the four African teams who competed in Korea/Japan in 2002, only Tunisia have made it back to the FIFA World Cup finals four years later.