Group C’s fourth match will be played between Spain and Chile would be played on Wednesday 18 June. It’s a much important one for both teams, for Spain it’s a ‘do-or-die’ encounter as they are in a dire need to get a win to keep their hopes for qualification alive. For Chile a win means they put one foot in the next round and it might need a minor miracle for them to then not qualify.
Spain’s chances in the tournament tanked after their first match against Netherlands, where they lost 5-1 to a rampant Oranje team.
One should also note that in 2010 edition of the tournament, Spain lost their first game (1-0 to Switzerland) only to win all the games that followed. This is an indicator why Spain should not be written off, with two games still remaining in the group stages. Especially given its Chile and Australia they play from here on.
Also, the criticism of Spain’s ‘Tiki-taka’ style of play is utterly ridiculous; the only thing needed to be done by Spain’s coach, Vincente del Bosque is to bring balance to the starting XI.
Chile, on the other hand have had a solid start to their World Cup winning 3-1 against the feisty Australia. The Australians tried hard to get something from the fixture but the red-hot Chilean attack spearheaded by Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez made sure the points were not lost or shared.
The Chilean defence though, needs improvement in the aerial department; this particular vulnerability amplified during their previous match when Australia’s Tim Cahill absolutely battered the Chilean centre backs. Though in the end, the match ended 3-1, the defence carried the bruises from the game.
This match will be a highly tactical one and with the kind of players both coaches possess, small tweaks in the strategy or moment of individual brilliance might swing the game in anybody’s favour.
Spain might start Diego Costa upfront again even though he was lacklustre in the Netherlands game, but his powerful built physique, aerial presence and hold up play will be ideal against the stocky defenders like Gary Medel. Spain could bring in David Villa or Cesc Fabregas as the second striker so that they could thrive on the knock downs or layoffs by Costa and their all-round technical play would mean players like Andreas Iniesta can get more space to work their magic.
The Spain defence looks suspect with the Sergio Ramos-Gerard Pique central partnership not clicking. Also the highline means the Spanish fullbacks leave lots of space behind them which if not covered by the defensive midfielders create havoc (like the Netherlands game where Arjen Robben was successful in beating the two centre backs for pace).
Chile’s wingers, Eduardo Vargas and Jorge Valdivia are pacey and intelligent. Sanchez upfront means, the Spanish centre backs have their hands full. Chile’s play is extremely attacking and can be suicidal at times with lot of players’ committed upfront leaving acres of space behind.
In Arturo Vidal they have a world class box-to-box midfielder who can be the link between attack and midfield as well as deliver bone crunching tackles while defending. But he’s just come back from an injury and would need some tactical discipline by other players against Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez’s passing range. This match may be another tough one for Spain but I fancy they’ll rise to the challenge and come good.
Spain to win: 8/13 (Ladbrokes)
Anytime scorer: Diego Costa 11/8 (BetBright)
Over 2.5 goals in the match: 13/19 (888Sport)