Spain vs Chile
Group H leaders Chile go into their crucial game against Spain full of confidence after collecting wins in their first two matches. Vicente Del Bosque’s team recovered from their opening defeat by Switzerland with a 2-0 reverse of Honduras, and know that victory in their final outing will definitely take them through.
Chile-Spain, Group H, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Tshwane/Pretoria, 20:30 (local time)
Spain have won six and drawn one of their seven meetings with Chile, scoring 18 goals and conceding only three in the process. Although that record suggests the Iberians should be confident ahead of this decisive duel, they are sure to be paying the South Americans great respect, especially as they trail the section pacesetters by three points.
Marcelo Bielsa’s charges have been impressive in collecting maximum points so far, playing some enterprising football and creating a host of chances along the way. Stunned by the Swiss, the UEFA EURO 2008 champions recovered some of their poise against Honduras on Monday, and will be hoping to complete their recovery against Chile.
Players to watch
David Villa v Claudio Bravo
The Spanish striker hit both his side’s goals against Los Catrachos, and could have had a hat-trick had he not hit the woodwork and also shot wide from the penalty spot. On top of his game against the central Americans, El Guaje will be looking to add to his tournament goal tally at the Loftus Versfeld, although to do that he will need to find a way past Claudio Bravo in the Chile goal.
The Real Sociedad custodian has yet to be beaten in South Africa and is in buoyant mood after his club colleagues regained their place in the Spanish top flight, where next season he will come up against Villa, who signed for Barcelona before the world finals began.
3 – The number of Chile players who played their club football in La Liga last year. Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad), Fabian Orellana (Deportivo Xerez) and Humberto Suazo (Real Zaragoza) will be hoping their in-depth knowledge of the Spanish game will help them sink Vicente del Bosque’s side.
What they said
Fernando Torres, Spain forward:
We know that a draw will be enough for Chile, and we also know it’s going to be a tricky match, because they are not used to just sitting back and defending. We are confident though.
Marcelo Bielsa, Chile coach:
We always try to take the game to our opponents but sometimes it depends not on what your intentions are but on what the opposition wants to do. We’ll try to force the pace against Spain because that’s the best way to overcome your opponent in my opinion. And in any case, we are not through yet.
Favourites to win the group, Spain now find themselves in danger of going out. Can the European champions rally and claim a place in the last 16?