Mar 27, 2016 at 7.45pm UK

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Preview: Romania vs. Spain

Sports Mole looks ahead to Sunday's international friendly between Romania and Spain in Cluj-Napoca.

Sunday's sole international friendly in Europe takes place in North-Western Romania as the Tricolorii welcome reigning European champions Spain to Cluj-Napoca.

Both sides are gearing up for this summer's Euro 2016 tournament in France.


Bogdan Stancu #19 of Romania celebrates after scoring his opening goal during the international friendly match between Italy and Romania at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on November 17, 2015© Getty Images

Not exactly spectacular, but Romania have been one of the most impressive lesser European nations the last couple of years since they lost in a playoff to Greece when trying to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

The Tricolorii have not lost a match since June 2014, going unbeaten in 16 friendlies and qualifiers, almost all of which have been under the leadership of Anghel Iordanescu.

In qualifying for Euro 2016 they were outshone by Northern Ireland in Group F, finishing a point behind Michael O'Neill's surprise package but still taking the second automatic qualification spot.

They only let in two goals in qualifying for the Euros – fewer than any other European nation - and that has helped them climb up to 16th in FIFA's world rankings. On Wednesday they edged out Lithuania 1-0 in their first match for four months.

This summer in France they have been placed in Group A alongside hosts France, Switzerland and Albania.

Recent form: DDDWDW


Aritz Aduriz of Spain celebrates a goal with teammates during the international friendly against Italy on March 24, 2016© Getty Images

Vicente del Bosque's men will be keen to get back to winning ways after a 1-1 draw with Italy on Thursday.

David de Gea, as he has done on countless occasions for Manchester United in recent years, saved his side with a string of fine saves as La Roja hung on for a point.

At the other end, Aritz Aduriz scored his first-ever international goal at the age of 35 on what was just his second cap, adding further gloss to what has already been an impressive season for the Athletic Bilbao frontman.

They may not be the force of a few years ago, but Spain are still certainly one of the teams to beat this summer and they go to France as the only team to win back-to-back European Championships having triumphed in 2008 and 2012.

La Roja are third in the world rankings after a qualifying campaign dominated by their defence. Early on they suffered a surprise defeat to Slovakia, but they bounced back in style by winning eight in a row without conceding a single goal to top the group.

Spain are in Group D at Euro 2016 and begin their campaign for a third straight European title against the Czech Republic on June 13, also facing Croatia and Turkey in the group stage.

Recent form: WWWWWD

Team News

Sergio Ramos poses for photographers as he announces a new deal at Real Madrid on August 17, 2015© Getty Images

Sergio Ramos has returned to his club Real Madrid after picking up a back injury against the Azzurri on Thursday, so Real teammate Nacho may partner Gerard Pique in central defence.

Iker Casillas should start in goal after De Gea was given the nod against the Italians. Del Bosque will likely make several other changes as he uses the bulk of his squad.

One man likely to keep his place is veteran striker Aduriz after his goal in Udine, but Paco Alcacer may partner him instead of Alvaro Morata.

Fewer changes are likely from the hosts, with Iordanescu trying to work out the formula that will give his side the best chance of advancing out of the group this summer.

Romania possible starting lineup:
Tatarusanu; Sapunaru, Grigore, Chiriches, Rat; Prepelita, Pintilii; Torje, Popa, Stancu; Keseru

Spain possible starting lineup:
Casillas; Gaspar, Nacho, Pique, Alba; Silva, Koke, Roberto; Isco, Aduriz, Alcacer

Head To Head

This will be the 16th international between these two sides and the previous 15 have been shared equally, with five Romania wins, five Spain successes and five draws.

Romania triumphed in the last contest - the only meeting this century - by edging out La Roja 1-0 in a November 2006 friendly.

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We say: Romania 0-1 Spain

Spain will be keen to bounce back from the draw with Italy and Romania should not cause the reigning European champions too many problems, although they might be tough to break down.

Who will claim victory, Romania or Spain?

David de Gea is loving life during the Premier League game between Manchester United and Stoke on February 2, 2016
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