Preview: Spain vs Chile
The mauling that Spain suffered against Netherlands was just a sobering reminder of the downside of ultra-offensive tactics. When they work they guarantee lots of goals, exciting football for the fans and freedom for players to express themselves, but when they things go wrong they do so badly.
Those who follow the European leagues will have distinct memories of the heavy losses Barcelona, Arsenal and Bayern Munich suffer when they lose.
Vicente Del Bosque is a manager whose success is built on wisdom and he will no doubt be aware that his team can still stage a successful defence of their crown. For them to do so though, they will need to defeat Chile or crash out at the group stage.
For the Chileans, this game represents a chance to simultaneously increase their chance of reaching the knockout stages while also relegating the defending champions to an early exit.
Chile have the enough quality to hurt Spain and they also have the momentum from the 3-1 win they picked up against Australia.
Spain team news
- David De Gea picked a muscle injury in training on Sunday. He is expected to be out for about 10 days.
- Del Bosque hinted that he will make some changes for this game as Cesc Fabregas is expected to replace Diego Costa up front. The other changes will likely see David Silva and Xavi Hernandez’s places being taken by Pedro Rodriguez and Koke respectively.
Chile team news
- Arturo Vidal is expected to start. The Juventus midfielder has been recovering from knee surgery and he featured for an hour against Australia.
- Despite problems at the back in the first game against Australia, Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli is tipped to stick with the same defenders he picked in that game.
Del Bosque recently emphasised that the changes he makes should not be taken as tacit pointers as to who messed up against Netherlands but rather as an endorsement that everyone in his 23-man squad has enough quality to start.
The unflappable manager will have to juggle between making necessary improvements to his side and still retaining the confidence of the players who have served him well for years of unrivaled success.
That unenviable task is especially true with regards to Xavi. While it may be easy to replace Silva with Pedro, taking Xavi out of the team is a bit more complicated than that. The Barcelona stalwart is undoubtedly the best Spanish player of all time but now, because of the inevitable effects of age, his body is beginning to betray him. His energy levels and sharpness are visibly below what they were four years ago, while Koke has been outstanding for Atletico Madrid.
For Sampaoli, his approach will probably be the same regardless of who starts for Spain. He will still expect the opposition to dominate possession, to attack mainly through the middle and play with high intensity.
Sampaoli will set his team up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation with the primary defensive aim of making Chile hard to breakdown. Offensively, Chile can fuse their usual attacking game with the tactics that Louis Van Gaal used against the Spaniards.
During transitional play, Chile could target Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sanchez with long diagonal balls floated in behind Spain’s high defensive line. The strikers have enough pace and quality to replicate the runs that Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie made in Spain’s first game.
Spain should come into the game better prepared to deal with those threats but it would certainly not hurt the Chileans to try.