Switzerland’s victory over Spain on the first day of World Cup Group H was a disaster for both of these teams. Had Spain beaten the Swiss, both sides would have six points by now and a draw would have put both through. Instead, Chile must take something from the European Champions to be certain of qualification while Spain must win to keep their destiny in their own hands.
Chile have one foot in the last 16 but a failure to convert their dominance into goals over the previous two games means that goal difference could come into play should they lose tomorrow. If Switzerland fire against group minnows Honduras, Chile would still need a point to go through. The Swiss, who have lacked any real attacking potency so far need three points and a three goal swing to overhaul the South American’s
Spain however are far more vulnerable. They are tied with the Swiss on three points and must better their result to claim a place in the knockout stages. Before the tournament most pundits confidently predicted that Spain would walk this group but defeat in their opening group game left them playing catch up. Vicente del Bosque knows his side must win to maintain their challenge for the trophy.
Both sides look to keep the ball on the ground and attack at every opportunity. Neither is comfortable sitting back and defending a small advantage. This could be the game of the tournament so far as two adventurous, entertaining sides go toe to toe. In truth, it would be a shame for either side to leave the tournament at this stage.
Carlos Carmona and Matias Fernandez will both miss this game through suspension. Jorge Valdivia is likely to start as the central playmaker in place of Fernandez while Rodrigo Millar could come in for Carmona. Humberto Suazo is likely to start as he continues his comeback from injury. Marcelo Bielsa will be desperate for the powerful striker to find form and give Chile a more ruthless edge in attack.
Andres Iniesta should start having recovered from injury while the more physical Alvaro Arbeloa may replace Joan Capdevilla at left back in a bid to counter the threat of Alexis Sanchez. Del Bosque must decide whether or not to bow to pressure from the Spanish media and drop one of his holding midfielders. Many Spaniards would prefer to see an attacking player in place of one of Xabi Alonso or Sergio Busquets. Fernando Torres and David Villa will probably start in attack.
Alexis Sanchez (Chile) – Sanchez has been outstanding so far and looks a real goal threat in addition to creating chances for others. Having missed a few decent chances in the first two games, the skilful winger will be looking to grab the goal his overall play deserves tomorrow.
David Villa (Spain) – This man is a goal machine. Should Spain progress few would look past Barcelona’s latest signing for the Golden Boot. If del Bosque manages to create a balanced midfield that creates chances for Villa, the striker will score.