Spanish coach del Bosque hails Socceroos
The Socceroos have earned the praise of Spain's World Cup-winning coach Vicente del Bosque, who said Australia should be proud of their performances in Brazil.
On the eve of Spain's final World Cup match in Curitiba on Tuesday (NZT), del Bosque lauded Australia's technical ability and the well-organised, attacking manner in which coach Ange Postecoglou has them playing.
As the only coach to have won the UEFA Champions League (with Real Madrid), the European Championship and the World Cup, del Bosque is among the world's most highly-rated managers.
But while his stocks may have plunged since back-to-back defeats in Brazil ruled Spain out of a title defence, he admits the opposite is true of the Socceroos and Postecoglou.
He said he had done his research on Australia before the tournament but conceded he was forced to re-asses after the Socceroos' impressive displays against the Netherlandsand Chile.
Despite missing the likes of suspended striker Tim Cahill and injured midfielders Mark Bresciano and Mark Milligan, del Bosque says he is ready for a difficult encounter.
''We had information about them before we came here but after watching them against Holland and Chile, I can confirm that they are really good,'' del Bosque said.
''They are very good technically, they have very fast players who play at the front.
''It's true that they have some injuries but they are very well organised.
''So I must say that they are a wonderful team and they can feel very proud of their performance in this World Cup.''
Del Bosque is set to make several changes for their clash with the Socceroos at Arena da Baixada saying he will give any player who is yet to get game time some minutes.
He confirmed skipper and goalkeeper Iker Casillas will be replaced by the much less experienced Pepe Reina with defenders Juanfran and Raul Albiol also set to get their first run in the tournament.
Xavi Hernandez is ruled out of the match with injury meaning the veteran midfielder, along with Casillas, will almost certainly have played their last game for Spain.
Des Bosque however, confirmed fellow veteran Andres Iniesta will take the field to earn his 100th cap while A-League bound striker David Villa looks set to start at the point of attack in place of Diego Costa.