The FIFA World Cup will see Spain play Chile at the Estádio Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. The game is important for both squads in terms of group play, but paramount for the Spanish. After last week’s tromping by the Netherlands, Spain must win its next two matches if they hope to make it out of group play. While Spain needs the victory, Chile can sit back with as little as a draw and still be in good shape.
Chile took charge with a 3-1 victory over the Socceroos this past weekend. Despite the score, the Socceroos proved that they would not be a team to be overlooked. They were able to dominate the midfield at times, and their defense was able to stand up against Chile’s constant keep-away drill in front of the Australian box. Even so, the Chileans snagged two early goals by Alexis Sánchez and Jorge Valdívia, and a stoppage-time deal-sealer by Jean Beausejour.
As it stands now, the goal differential in Group B makes Spain’s job a bit of a headache. Continuing on that train of thought, last week’s performance of Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas has fans concerned about whether or not he will be able to bounce back from such an upset. Diego Maradona went on the record saying that Casillas is no longer a world-class goalie, however Spain’s coach is still likely to stick with his captain in goal.
Vicente del Bosque said that his team understands the implications of the massive upset they endured against the Netherlands. While the media paints a picture of Spain’s wounded ego, del Bosque plans on taking advantage of Chile’s courage. Overconfidence can be a team’s undoing, and in conjunction with the changes he plans to make to his starting lineup, del Bosque remains optimistic that his team can bounce back for this World Cup.
The Spaniards must regroup if they want to foster hopes for making it out of group play. The victory is necessary, and del Bosque has promised to make “small” changes to the lineup. Though Spain’s starting lineup is unknown, some have speculated that Gerard Piqué will be reduced to playing center bench. If that holds true, Javi Martínez is a likely replacement. Del Bosque also might choose to go with Cesc Fàbregas and Pedro Rodríguez instead of Diego Costa and David Silva, but the reality of these alterations to the lineup will not be known for certain until just before the match tomorrow.
Spain defeated Chile 2-1 back in 2010 at the World Cup in South Africa, but the reviews of that game illustrated a disorganized Spain and a domineering Chile. The playing styles of the two teams favor Chile’s high intensity over a recently skittish Spanish defense. Chile will definitely challenge Spain’s ability to play the ball out of the back. Just as they did in South Africa, it is possible that Spain will have to rely on spurts of individual talent to score against Chile tomorrow.
Spain must beat Chile and the Socceroos in a way that will help close the gap in goal differential if they want to have a chance at making it out of their World Cup group. What Spain can also hope for is that the Netherlands deal Chile an upset when they play on June 23rd. Undoubtedly, tomorrow’s game will decide the fate for the Spanish national team.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering FIFA World Cup Group B