Potchefstroom: Chile stands in
the way of Spain`s lofty World Cup hopes, as the European
champion goes into its final Group H match on Friday needing
victory to secure its spot in the knockout phase.
With both Switzerland and Honduras still in the mix for
one of the last two places in the last 16, Spain know it`s
time to live up to pre-tournament expectations or potentially
go home early.
"For us it`s clear what we have to do - we have to beat
Chile," said midfielder Andres Iniesta, who is available for
the final group match after overcoming a right leg injury.
"We`ve got a clear idea about what we need to do and we`re
confident of reaching the next round. Nothing else is
Whether it`s the World Cup favorite tag slapped on it,
overconfidence or tactical changes, Spain hasn`t quite been
able to emulate the attractive play that led it to its
European triumph two years ago.
Despite dominating opponents, it has only found the back
of twice through David Villa in a 2-0 win over Honduras.
Switzerland stifled it in a 1-0 win that led to questions over
coach Vicente del Bosque`s tinkering with the team as he
prefers defensive midfielders Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso
over the likes of attacking players Cesc Fabregas and David
"The idea is to play our own (strengths), take the
initiative and take control of the game but we don`t know if
they will let us," Del Bosque said. "They can play different
ways, they have good players and style of play. They`re
Chile needs only a draw at Pretoria`s Loftus Versfeld
Stadium to win the group as its six points leads the three
Spain and Switzerland each have. Honduras has zero.
The winner of the group, which could come down to goal
difference if there is a three-way tie on points, is also
likely to avoid a matchup with Group G leader Brazil.
"First and foremost, we will, as we do in all matches,
stand our ground," Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa said after the
1-0 win over the Swiss. "On Friday, we will try to again show
our talents. That`s the best way to try to be better than our
Bielsa`s love of attacking football should provide an
exciting finale to the group stage and be nothing like the two
teams` previous encounter in 2008 - a 3-0 win for Spain. Chile
has never beaten Spain in the teams` past seven matches,
suffering defeats in six.
"It`s going to be a totally different game, they are
going to come out attacking and we`re going to apply our own
way of playing," Chile winger Mark Gonzalez said. "All of our
attention is on reaching the next round and finishing first
(in the group)."
Spain will have David Villa in attack after avoiding a
FIFA ban for slapping an opponent, while Fernando Torres
should also start despite missing three scoring chances
"You`ve got to believe that he will find his accuracy,"
Del Bosque said of the Liverpool striker, who looked rusty
after starting for the first time since knee surgery.
Spain and Chile took more shots than any other team after
two games but both only scored two goals. Spain goalkeeper
Iker Casillas will finally get some work after facing only
three shots on goal so far.
While Spain frets over which super star will become a
super sub, Bielsa is without midfielders Carlos Carmona and
Matias Fernandez to suspension. Jorge Valdivia will likely
fill in for Fernandes, while striker Humberto Suazo is also
"Sometimes (new players) bring freshness and have more
energy," Bielsa said. "But most of the time they suffer to
find their rhythm."
Chile is using a torn and muddied Chilean flag as extra
motivation. The flag was pulled from the wreckage left behind
by the earthquake and tsunami that hit the South American
country in February, killing more than 500 people and leaving