World Cup 2014 Group B preview: Spain v Chile
“We hope to play well against Spain, take the three points, and if we knock them out that would be great. But we didn’t come here to knock out Spain, we came here to win the World Cup.”
A bold statement, but one that is consistent with the Chile camp, who are 9/2 to beat Spain in their second Group B game.
Midfielder Arturo Vidal has set his sights on lifting the most sought after trophy in global football, and they are 33/1 to do so. First they must overcome Spain, who will be hoping to bounce back after being well and truly taught a lesson by the Dutch in their opening encounter.
Vicente del Bosque’s side, despite leaking five goals, are odds-on at 4/7 to record their first victory of the tournament, and anything less than three points could essentially eliminate them from the Brazil finals. In South Africa four years ago, the Spanish lost their opening game against Switzerland, before going on to win every remaining match and lift the trophy.
Juventus lynchpin Vidal, who is 4/1 to net anytime, is predicting a backlash from La Roja, but is confident in the way his team plays. Attacker Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring against Australia, and is 8/1 to do so in his country’s second game, while strike partner Eduardo Vargas, whop is also in fine form, is the same price.
“We have our style and we’ll keep to it, we’ll keep working in the same way and we’re not going to change that,” Vidal continued. “We’re going to push forward looking for the three points. We have our style and we’ll keep to it, we’ll keep working in the same way and we’re not going to change that.”
Vidal was substituted during Chile’s 3-1 victory over Australia, having been out for a number of weeks prior to the World Cup, recovering from a knee operation on a meniscus problem that he had over a month ago, however he is now fully fit.
“The knee is responding very well, I’m in very good condition and I hope to start,” Vidal added. “I’m 100 per cent physically and I’m not thinking about my knee.”
Del Bosque, meanwhile, has to muster his swashbucklers. “Everyone feels we are capable of turning things around,” he said. “Many hours have passed and our spirits are higher. We now have to win our next two games, which won’t be easy, but is within the realms of possibility.
“We are searching for the best possible preparation and we are trying to make sure the players are not sad, we have to enjoy ourselves.”
Perhaps the biggest conundrum for the Spanish coach is whether to keep faith with the same system that was undone by the Netherlands, or deploy the ‘false nine’ strategy that proved so effective for them two years ago at Euro 2012.
Juan Mata, an unused substitute for the Dutch game, does not think there is any need for Spain to re-think their tactics, after stating they have won two European Championships and the World Cup by applying a possession-based game.
“We have to keep trusting in this style of play,” he said. “It has led to many triumphs and it allows us to control games, so I don’t see a reason why we should play another way.”
If that rings true, then Del Bosque may keep faith with Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, who won a penalty against the Netherlands for their opening goal after Andres Iniesta split the Dutch defence, though was largely unconvincing. He is 4/1 to score first, though proven campaigner and Costa’s outgoing club teammate David Villa could be given the nod, and if so, punters can enjoy odds of 13/8 for him to find the net anytime.
Cesc Fabregas started the Euro 2012 final against Italy, a tournament when they made the bold switch to a ‘false nine’ and capped it by thrashing the Azzurri 4-0. Having just secured a move to Chelsea, he will be keen to impress Jose Mourinho, and show him that he can give the Blues an extra option as a striker.
Fabregas is 2/1 to find the net at anytime, and if flanked by David Silva and Pedro supplemented by the imperious Iniesta and metronome Xavi, he has shown he can put them away.
One other question facing Del Bosque is whether to keep faith in long-standing goalkeeper Iker Casillas, after what was a poor performance from the faithful Real Madrid servant. To be fair to him, he has barely played over the past two seasons, and it was his manager that took a risk. David de Gea, or the experienced Pepe Reina could be preferred, and Spain are 29/20 to keep a clean sheet.
It is make or break for Spain, though are opening match events from four years ago an omen for this time around?