The world's top national team finds itself in a strange place this week: an island where baseball is more popular soccer.
Spain, the defending World Cup and European champion, takes on 138th-ranked Puerto Rico on Wednesday night in the first soccer meeting between the nations.
''This will be good for the national players who are currently in preseason training with their professional clubs,'' Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas said Tuesday.
While the Real Madrid contingent had a relatively easy trek following Saturday's exhibition against Glasgow Celtic in Philadelphia, Barcelona's players were in Romania last weekend to play Dinamo Bucharest.
Both Spanish powers are scheduled to open their La Liga seasons at home Sunday, with defending champion Real Madrid hosting Valencia and Barcelona playing Real Sociedad.
Spain's national team will be playing for the first time since routing Italy 4-0 on July 1 for its second straight European title.
''We hope the team is in optimum shape,'' said winger Santi Cazorla, who could make his Arsenal debut Saturday against Sunderland.
A Spanish colony from the 1500s until 1898, Puerto Rico has been trying to boost its soccer status. Its national team already has been eliminated in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, finishing second to Canada in a group that included St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia. The Puerto Rico Islanders of the North American Soccer League are in the CONCACAF Champions League.
''This is a great chance for us to let the world know that take football seriously in Puerto Rico,'' national coach Jeaustin Campos said. ''After all, this is the first time in our history that we will play against the reigning world champions.''
The match is being played on the Islanders' home field at the 20,000-seat Ramon Loubriel Stadium.
Spain, preparing for its opening World Cup qualifier at Georgia on Sept. 11, is without Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol, David Villa and Jordi Alba. Sevilla forward Alvaro Negredo also was left out.
''We are thrilled with this game,'' goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas said. ''We hope it is an unforgettable show.''