Estádio Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Wednesday, 18 June, 19:00 GMT
After the humiliating defeat against Netherlands in their first game, Spain face Chile in what might be a testing game for ‘La Roja’. Chile have begun their campaign with a satisfying victory against Australia and the possibility of them making it through to the knockouts is considerably high. Spain will have a point to prove as many questions have been raised regarding the abilities of Vicente Del Bosque’s men. The performance against Netherlands must have come as quite a sharp wake up call for the defending champions. They must do their all and win this tricky fixture if they want to go through to the knockouts. Chile meanwhile, have a golden opportunity to prove to the world that they should be taken seriously. In the past they have managed to give this Spanish team a few headaches and they must be looking to do the same in this fixture. A positive result will mean a lot to the Chileans and will give them a chance to cause the first big upset of the World Cup 2014 by nearly eliminating Spain.
The two teams faced each other in the 2010 World Cup. The game saw Spain win 2-1 in a rather tense affair.
The start to the defending champions’ campaign was nothing less than a disaster. A 5-1 defeat against Netherlands in which we saw the worst possible defensive display from a team of Spain’s caliber. The Spaniards looked completely lost on the pitch and just gave up once the Dutch had grabbed the lead. The fact that their only goal came off a rather dubious penalty must be a matter of serious concern for Coach Vicente Del Bosque. The only positive being the fact that Spain had also lost their opening fixture in 2010 and eventually went on to win the tournament. However, things have changed a lot in the last 4 years and a repeat of the 2010 spectacle seems a distant dream at the moment.
Spain needs to turn over a new leaf and get over the embarrassing defeat against Netherlands as soon as possible. Del Bosque’s 23-man squad selection was not very appreciated and if he wishes to erase the doubts about the team selection, he must make a few changes to the starting 11. Del Bosque may not stick to the same line-up as the first match for his team’s own good. The Spaniard should make a few changes in the back-line as it looked completely disorganised and lost in the game against Holland. Cesar Azpilicueta just couldn’t adapt to the playing style and might be replace by Juanfran. Though Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique had a disastrous first day of the campaign, it will be hard for the coach to replace the three defenders. It is possible that Pique makes way for Javi Martinez in the second game.
The Spanish midfield is stuffed with some extraordinary talent and it is time for Del Bosque to use that talent to their full potential. He must make some bold changes and pick either Xavi or Xabi Alonso alongside Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta and not go into the game with both of them, as the duo are clearly past their prime and will slow the pace of the game. Cesc Fabregas should be fielded as a false 9 as Spain’s forward problems don’t seem to end despite the inclusion of Diego Costa. Pedro, who had a good enough season for Barcelona should take his place on the wings along with David Silva.
Probable Line-up (4-3-3): Casillas; Juanfran, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Buquets, Alonso, Iniesta; Fabregas, Silva, Pedro
A winning start against Australia was just the perfect way Chile would have wanted their campaign to start. Hopes must be high in the Chile camp. The players struck the right chord in the first game and will be hoping to do so in the rest of the games as well. The win against Australia can prove to be probably the most crucial 3 points for Chile in the campaign. They still have a rather difficult task on their hands as they must secure at least a point against either Spain or Netherlands if they wish to make it to the group stage. Tipped to cause an upset, Chile will go into this game full of grit and determination as they will look to eliminate Spain from the group and all but seal their passage to the knockouts with a win.
Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli must be quite satisfied with the team and the way they played their opening game against Australia. The South American team must be working hard on their counter-attacking skills after watching how Netherlands all but destroyed Spain with sublime counter-attacks. The coach may just stick to the same starting line-up as the one against Australia and will hope for a similar result. With his extreme pace and strong physique, Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez will be the key man in the Chilean attack. The winger has had a superb season with Barcelona and he has the potential to decide the fate of the game. Organised and strong defending will be the key for Chile as they will be facing one of the world’s best midfielders in the opposite side. The key man in the Chilean midfield will be Arturo Vidal. The Juventus midfielder will be the commanding figure in the midfield.
Chile (3-5-2): Bravo; Isla, Mena, Diaz; Medel, Jara, Aranguiz, Vidal, Vargas; Sanchez, Valdivia
Spain 1-1 Chile
Spain is still a world-class team but their performance against Netherlands was nothing like usual. It makes it hard to believe that Spain can beat a pumped-up Chile side. Chile meanwhile may not be the favourites but will squeeze a point from the Spaniards.