After a forgettable Euro 2016, Spain will want to make the best possible start to their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign when the former champions host Liechtenstein in Leon on Monday.
The golden age of Spanish football seems to have come to an end, following a second straight disappointing performance in a major tournament. After Spain failed to even get out of their group in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the 2008 and 2012 European champions were dumped out by Italy in the pre-quarters of Euro 2016 in France.
With a new manager in Julen Lopetegui now at the helm, Spain will hope a fresh start brings them fresh results and a return to the dominant football, which won them three major tournament titles in a row.
The early signs are encouraging, as Lopetegui got his Spain career off to a winning start, with his team getting the better of Belgium in an international friendly last week. That 2-0 win, thanks to a David Silva double, would have given the manager a lot of confidence, and while Liechtenstein are not expected to give the former world and European champions too many problems, Lopetegui will still target an assured performance, the kind that will make a statement.
"The big day comes tomorrow," Lopetegui told reporters. "It's the first of the competition. I am delighted with the players' attitude and commitment, they are focussed on the game and getting a good start to the qualifiers.
"I am among those who think that if the group works, then the individuals are strengthened. They are good, intelligent people and everything's easier when you have this type of player. We are very pleased with their attitude and with their commitment of being a team, a collective."
Spain have always been about the collective, so it will be interesting to see how Lopetegui handles Diego Costa, who seems to grab a lot of headlines, for good and not so good reasons.
After an accomplished display against Belgium, Costa, who was not picked for Euro 2016 by former manager Vicente Del Bosque, claimed the only reason he does not get enough plaudits for his performances with the national team is because he is not a natural Spaniard. Costa was born in Brazil and recently decided to play for Spain after gaining citizenship.
"All my players are truly motivated ahead of the game, not just Diego," Lopetegui said, when asked about the striker's mindset in particular.
If Costa, who is likely to start with Alvaro Morata an injury doubt, has one of those monster games, when he terrorises the defence, in more ways than one, Spain will have it really easy on Monday.
Where to Watch Live
Spain vs Liechtenstein is scheduled for an 8.45 p.m. local time (12.15 a.m. IST next day, 7.45 p.m. BST, 2.45 p.m. ET) start. Live Streaming and TV information is below.
India: TV: Sony Six/HD. Live Streaming: Sonyliv.
Spain: TV: TVE.
USA: TV: Fox Sports 1 and Unimas. Live Streaming: Foxsoccer2go.
Canada: TV: Sportsnet World.
Australia: TV: ESPN 2.