PREVIEW: Mata braced for Panama test

Recalled Spain midfielder Juan Mata is not expecting an easy night against Panama as the world champions look to sign off another memorable year unbeaten.

Football News: Juan Mata

Spain travel to Panama City having been victorious in 13 of their 15 fixtures so far in 2012, including a 4-0 thrashing of Italy in July which saw them retain their European Championship title.

Only two countries have managed to avoid defeat against the Spanish this year, with the Italians holding them 1-1 at Euro 2012 and France doing likewise in last month's World Cup qualifier.

Despite that superb form though, Mata insists his side are remaining grounded and will treat Panama - a country ranked 46 places below them in the world rankings - with respect.

"This team is characterised by having humility and not getting carried away with all the praise," the Chelsea player said.

"We will continue working with humility and even if the wins keep coming we must always keep our feet on the ground."

Regarding Wednesday's opponents, who Spain are facing for the first time, Mata said: "We won't allow ourselves to be surprised, it's a very important game for them.

"To play against the Spanish national team is now very important, it's a game that virtually everyone will see and we have to try to be at the same level of intensity and concentration as them.

"We are going into the game wanting to give a good impression of ourselves, and winning."

Mata is pleased to be back in the international fold after being left out of the last two squads.

Mata was excluded initially following a request from Chelsea to reduce his workload after a busy summer which saw the 24-year-old represent Spain at both the European Championship and the London Olympics.

Then, there was no spot for the in-form playmaker in Spain coach Vicente del Bosque's next squad for World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and France.

Mata said: "Not being in the last squad was not good news for me. Every Spanish player feels tremendous joy when they get a call from the national coach, and sadness when they don't.

"There are a lot of games through the year and the most important thing is remain be calm and to do well for your club.

"Personally I think that I'm having a good campaign, even though it's just started."

Mata could be brought straight back into the staring XI with fellow midfielders Xavi, Xabi Alonso and David Silva all missing for the trip to Panama.

Mata's club colleague Fernando Torres was also rested along with Gerard Pique but uncapped duo Athletic Bilbao midfielder Markel Susaeta and Barcelona defender Martin Montoya could earn their first caps after being included in the 19-man travelling squad.

Panama coach Julio Cesar Dely Valdes, meanwhile, is well aware of what his side are up against on Wednesday.

The former Malaga, Real Oviedo and Paris St Germain striker, whose side are unbeaten in their last three matches, said in La Prensa: "Spain always try to run the game, to have the ball. I see almost no weakness in their side.

"For me they are the best (ever). I can't remember having seen another national team play the way Spain do. As individuals, as a team, everything."



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